Instructables

DIY Screen Printing: Easy, Detailed & Inexpensive!

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Picture of DIY Screen Printing: Easy, Detailed & Inexpensive!
You can make your own unique, detailed, screen-printed shirt at home with a few simple materials! This method uses Drawing Fluid and Screen Filler to easily create your detailed design on a screen. There are other cheap methods you can use for screen-printing, however I really like this method because it allows you to create more detailed designs than you would using Mod Podge to paint on a screen and it's much easier than using an exacto knife to cut out fine details from contact paper. Also, it's less expensive than purchasing screen-printing frames from art stores, which are usually $15 & up.

If you'd like to see some finished products or view my other tutorials, check out my etsy shop blog , or follow me on twitter ! Also, your constructive feedback on this tutorial is greatly appreciated!  Thanks for looking and message me with any questions!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/anotherwaydesigns
http://anotherwaydesigns.blogspot.com/
http://twitter.com/anotherwaydsgn
 
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
You need a few inexpensive materials which can be found at art stores & most craft stores.

- embroidery hoop (only about $2 for a basic hoop, available at craft stores)
- mesh material (nylon, polyester, silk - something with tiny holes that can serve as a fine screen)
- Drawing Fluid (I use Speedball, available at most art stores)
- small paintbrush
- newspaper
- Screen Filler (I use Speedball, available at most art stores)
- plastic spoon
- screenprinting ink
- squeegie
- shirt or bag to print on

Step 2: Assemble Your Screen

Picture of Assemble Your Screen
Take your mesh material and place inside embroidery hoop. Tighten hoop. Stretch material evenly across hoop and tighten hoop again. Should be tight or your material will shift and you won't have a clear print.
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EricX123 days ago

Very easy to understand, this is awesome.Good work.

color-printing-mesh.jpg
ezvee2 years ago
What do you recommend for cleaning the screen after? I know for a fact that Screen filler is really hard to clean out....
StaceyH1 ezvee2 months ago

Since I spent 3 hours lettering and the screen filler just washed 1/4 of it away, I would like to know this answer as well.

nfarrow3 months ago

Five Important Notes for printing with fabric inks:


  1. The screen frame is usually detached from the base and used alone. Usually two (2) people should work on the printing process – one holding the screen frame tightly against the fabric, and the other doing the printing.
  2. On articles like T-shirts, a piece of foamboard, cardboard or paper must be put inside each garment to act as a barrier.
  3. To improve the lubricity (slipperiness) of the ink, you may add the Transparent Base. To slow drying or to prevent screen clogging, add the Retarder Base (1-2 tbs. to 8 oz. of ink).
  4. Wash-up of screens and tools must be done immediately after use. If they are allowed to dry on your screen or tools, they are difficult or impossible to remove.
  5. After the fabric ink dries on the fabric, set a household iron at the highest dry heat (no steam) that will not scorch the fabric and with a cloth or paper between the iron and printed material, iron on each side for 3 – 5 minutes. This will make the ink withstand repeated washings.

    http://www.speedballart.com/our-products.php?cat=21
Gumbyaok4 months ago
0Troy1 year ago
Very clever reversing the process!
bgemmell1 year ago
This is fabulous! Very clear and easy to understand - thank you!
hi! i just wanted to let you know that because i like this instructable so much, i have added it to my silkscreen guide... http://www.instructables.com/id/silkscreen-printing-easy-and-cheap/

thanks for sharing your ideas!
ahughes162 years ago
Very helpful! and easy to understand, thanks a lot ! :)
I had no idea it could be THAT easy! Screen printing has always seemed like some mystical and expensive process.

I've got a kit. I'm giving it a shot.
calcitrix3 years ago
I left a comment about a year ago that I was going to try this with summer camp kids...I did, and they loved it! They drew their designs on the screen fabric (some traced computer-printed stencils) and painted the drawing fluid by themselves, and even put the screen filler over it without help. We used small hard plastic cards (like credit card slugs) to put the screenprinting ink on, which worked beautifully. I'm doing it again this summer--we have lots of materials left over.

Plus I got to make myself some shirts with the kids' designs, which were very cute and funny! Thanks again for the instructable.
emilyhell3 years ago
You can make a DIY rectangular screen too. go to Ross or Ikea and buy the cheapest wood rectangular photo frame that has no embelishments on the front. remove the glass and backing. stretch the screen/mesh fabric over the bare rectangular screen and use a staple gun to secure in place on the edges of the frame (do not staple on the side that will lay flat when you screen print). cover with duct tape before beginning the drawing fluid step.
HazelMcL3 years ago
I want to screen print a pair of tights. Is this possible with this method?
Indeed it is! They just need to be stretched out to the full extent while you're printing.
phatfrog3 years ago
hi, i am just getting into this, so you are using a smaller squeegie than you print, which i guess means you have to pull ink a few times... so how do you stop it from bleeding.
i have had results bleed or some areas not have ink even with a squeegie that is bigger than my printing area??
also i have a screen but there seems to be a lot of instructions that say i have to tape the edges?? can i skip that? it looks like you get around it.
can't wait for the reply, i have been put off trying again as my first to printing attempts have not worked (one invovling cleaning filler out, so i am going to read over your steps for that too)
thanks
anotherway (author)  phatfrog3 years ago
hi! since the frame is round, i use a smaller squeegie to make it easier. i usually only pull ink 3-4 times and if the screen is tight, and the ink is not runny, it shouldn't bleed.

also, since the screen is round, i didn't tape it. i do tape screens when i buy rectangular screens. if you have the $, i'd buy a screen from the store since they are stronger and tighter; if not, then this is a good cheap alternative.
anotherway (author) 4 years ago
Yes, you have to use 'screenprinting' ink. Other inks may dry in the screen holes or ruin your screen! Have fun!
jolene_4 years ago
Thank you so much, this is exactly what I need! Looks to be so much easier than I thought it was going to be!

Just one question as this will be my first attempt doing this myself, what kind of paint do you use? Does it have to say specifically "Screen Printing Ink", or will any kind of fabric type paint work? Basically I'm looking for what would be the most inexpensive paint but that would still wash and wear well. I see only one store listed in my city on Speedball's website, so I'm hoping I have more options than them LOL.

Another question, and I completely understand if you are not wanting to share, but I was wondering if you have a preference as to where you get good quality shirts and other things to print on, but at a good price? I've been on the search for a while but feel overwhelmed by the choices and not knowing who is really good with supplying these things.
BATKENYAN4 years ago
wow this is probably the most helpful one ive seen thanks alot :D
farmer moss4 years ago
thanks for this really simple, easy to understand and low-budget oriented tutorial :) i am organizing a community art & diversity event and it just got a lot simpler!
odie reyes4 years ago
basic. nice. educational.excellent result. and can be profitable. two thumbs up for the instructional guidelines and a big kiss for the model.
calcitrix4 years ago
I've read all the different versions on easy screen printing--this seems the best of them to try with older kids (no cutting, no chemicals)! Thanks so much; have ordered the materials and I know we'll have a blast.
920334 years ago
Another great one on Silk Screen Printing. Good job on this one too like your previous Instructable. SILK Screening uses just that: SILK. Yes, more expensive but lasts through hundreds of prints. Washes out perfectly to create new designs. In the Long Run...cheaper in cost than rayon or nylon which will not hold up for quality work for long. Avoid the eventual hair-tearing frustration. A YARD of Screen Printing SILK could last the casual user a lifetime. I still have some frames over 60 years old. :-) Don't cut corners if you're serious about Silk Screen Printing. Take it from this ole retired Pro silk screen printer.
Mekasia4 years ago
Guess I'm gonna have to order some drawing fluid. When I asked the lady at Michael's here for Speedball screen printing ink, she looked at me like I was asking to buy drugs. So I have been using the Mod Podge method, which can get VERY tedious when painting around small or fine details. Overall, great instructable!
anotherway (author)  Mekasia4 years ago
the drawing fluid & screen filler will be easier to find at an art store like Blicks or Flax (call ahead of time to make sure they have it!!).  Michael's has a Speedball Screen Printing kit with all the material you need (atleast the one near my house does, i saw it in the art section the other day); however, they don't actually sell the kit items separately, which is kinda funny.  so the workers there may not be familiar with the product (or the Micheal's where you live may not carry it)..
Any recommendations on where to get  this mesh material or what to use?  Could you use another T-shirt?
 @anotherway is right.

The screen needs to have some important properties:
- It must have holes that are big enough to allow ink to pass through easily,
   but small enough to allow the stencil to properly adhere.
- It needs to be rather stiff with only a small amount of give, so that it returns
   to its original position instantly.
- It shouldn't be made of an overly-fibrous organic material (cotton, wool, etc),
   as the fibers tend to soak up and hold in the ink,
   and can degrade the quality of the print.
   Silk or nylon ought to work, as those materials don't "shed" fibers.

The right screen material is key. The reason professional ones are called "silk screens" is because silk is the best material to use (it's fine, strong, doesn't shed, and keeps a good amount of elasticity, as well as re-use longevity). My advice is to try something out; start cheap, give it your best guess, and you'll quickly learn what makes a good fabric while not wasting money!
anotherway (author)  SpiderSpartan4 years ago
Hi Spider!

The mesh material I used is nylon from Jo-Ann fabrics. I looked for a material with tiny holes that looked like fine mesh. I'm not sure another t-shirt would work too well b/c the fabric may be woven too tight, and the cotton may absorb the ink instead of letting it pass through.  You can also look for polyester or silk fabric with small holes. If you have an art store near you, stop in and check out the screen printing frames that they have, so you have an idea of what the mesh material looks like.  Also, make sure the material isn't too stretchy (ie nylon stockings) b/c the material will move around during printing.
rogeromc4 years ago
I went to look around in the city near by where I live, and look for any fabric store, and I asked for silk, they told me silk is very pricy, so I looked around and they have a grat variaty of the fabric that can work for screenprinting. If any body needs some I can ship it for you, its lite so I dont think it will be expensive to mail.
rogeromc23@yahoo.com
dkynha4 years ago
 Thank you Thank you!
Congratz for the awesome tutorial.
love it  ^^
 I have tried normal screen printing before and . . .

A. had a hard time getting the drawing ink to wash out
B. was suposed to keep the liquid used to fill the screen under a light for several hours

Do you ever have issues with this?
Like banansaur said you used an emulsion system.

Unfortunately you probably over exposed the screen or the image negative was not as opaque as you thought. Which would at best washing out the screen difficult at worst the screen its ruined and you either need to strip the emulsion and restart from the beginning or if really bad toss out the the screen (though keep the frame).

Usually using a soft tooth brush or scrub brush will help clear out those stubborn areas.
The type of screen printing method you were using was probably emulsion based, which involves dark room preparation and usually a trasparency or darkened image for burning. The drawing fluid method doesn't need to be exposed. With either, if you're having trouble removing all of the non-filled areas, try using a high pressure spray of cold water and then follow it with warm water. 
anotherway (author)  GraduallyGreener4 years ago
Thanks everyone!

GraduallyGreener:
A. When applying the screen filler, how many times did you drag the squeegie across the screen? I try to do it as little as possible so that the screen filler doesn't start to fill in where the drawing fluid is, maybe 2-3 times across the design. You also may want to draw thicker lines with your drawing fluid, sometimes fine lines get filled in with the screen filler. Also, if you have trouble washing the drawing fluid out, I like to take a toothbrush and scrub the areas that aren't washing out (gently at first, then gradually applying more pressure as necessary). This always helps me..
B. I'm not sure what kind of screen filler you used. With Speedball screen filler, you don't have to expose to light...

Hope that helps! Let me know if you have more questions!
marcintosh4 years ago
 BRILLIANT !  just the kind of screen printing I've been looking for 

Thanks lots
landru4 years ago
Thank you for this well done, clear instructable. I hope to try it soon.
 Thank you, thank you, thank you!  What a great idea!  I will be using this right away to make T-Shirts for my business!
Thank you so much! I really needed something simple. Those hoops can be purchased in all sizes.
hogtowner4 years ago
I like this economical idea!  I dislike having to use iron on designs printed with my printer due to cost, plus having to wash the items without softener.  Makes for wasted money washing a few items in a washer.

You are the queen of this topic!  Very helpful for making T-shirts for my meetup.com groups at an economical price.  Thanks bunches.
dchall84 years ago
That is nice, especially if you are an artist.  For those of us who are not, do you have a quick or easy way to transfer images from the computer to the screen? 
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