Introduction: Screen Print Low Fi Haloween Trick or Treating Robot Onto a T-shirt , Canvas or Something
First Prize in the
Print & Dye Contest
this process can be achieved with a minimal amount of equipment.and gives striking results.
i have illustrated the basic principal , and included some images of the sort of equipment that is normally used.prices for something that is not made from pink plastic start at around £250.00
how did i come to make my own budget printing instead of buying/renting or even using the proper equipment? its a long story that started over a decade ago.
- This method i originally developed at uni ,when the print technician was grumpy and not so willing to go through the process to a scruffy slightly stoned non print department newbie, besides they charged money for screen rental.
- ( the initial uni workshop inductions/orientations were set up in a way that made it difficult to be inducted into more than one workshop discipline ,sculpture/video/photography or print, i naturally chose sculpture as they had a band-saw , wielder and a free materials scrap pile)
- Being a stubborn so and so, I decided I did not need a print workshop full of precise, carefully used immaculate printing equipment,(they spent a lot of time polishing metal print things)i was far more inspired by industriously making lots of dubious quality colorful prints, as quickly as humanly possible, in my grotty cluttered studio space .(wanted to do a Dudley Moore in 'Santa Claus the Movie' making rubbish toys but very quickly)
- I could have spent 10 weeks petrol money on some desktop silk screen equipment, then some more on a uv exposure unit and the photosensitive gloop.(also this was before i had the luxury of computer literacy) however this purchasing method would have made it impossible to get into uni.i had the options of give up and hide, or give in and grovel, or plan B (beat them)
- I proceeded by making my own equipment, by breaking the concept down to its bare bones, mesh, stencil and squeegee. i put together a printing method that uses these elements, giving quickly repeatable images with a arty mechanically-organic surface.(imperfections and grid pattern) all done with the absolute minimum expenditure and with a better turnaround time than the print workshop with all there equipment and processes .(my original screen photo on last step) this instructable has some small improvements on my original design.
- The print technician was much more respectful after my first 20 prints , tho i never stepped into the print workshop again, after my first visit.LOL (to their obvious relief ,my chaotic practice would not fit in well in that environment)
- The added bonus being, once out of the university i can still screen print should i wish to. and i can spend the money saved on wielding equipment instead!
Step 1: Materials and Tools
for the screen
- Net curtain offcuts i bought nice new £1.50from here or you could go to a charity shop for something old and manky,
- MDF off cut,18mm x 350mm x 335mm just bigger than your intended print. you will find next to the cutting service at diy super store £1.00
- emulsion paint £4.99 @wilko 2.5l ,£10.00 @wickes 5l ,or tester pots for £1.00 @ diy superstore
- acrylic paint in tubes , the cheap range of a reputable make will be good. screen printing doesn't use as much paint as youd think it would. i had some already, but i think you can get a good set for £10.00
- A4 paper free with photocopying service . i have considered trying ohp cellulose acetate film for reusable masks ,but have not got round to it.
- something to print onto, old work t shirt free, cheap ready-made canvasses. i have even printed onto one of my cars years ago.
- lots of water for washing your screen.
to make screen
- ruler ,
- pencil or pen,
- staple gun,
- paint brush.
- car window squeegee (with the rubber bit) petrol station £2.99 in summer and £10.00 winter or poundland for £1.00
- scalpel or sharp craft knife , i have a posh one ,but there is suitably sharp equipment in poundland.
- somewhere to wash the screen, kitchen sink or shower.
Step 2: Cut Out the Print Area
mark a slightly 5 to 10 mm bigger than a4 rectangle onto your mdf. and cut out with a jigsaw. then cut a bit off the outer corners, then hoover up all the horrible mdf dust.
Step 3: Curvey Rubbins
use a rasp and sandpaper to make all the edges nicely round and smooth, netting is not a fan of corners and will tear easily when stretched over an edge.
Step 4: Waterproof Mdf?
paint the frame to attempt to water proof it. the screen will need a lot of washing with plenty of water and you do not want the mdf to turn to mush.
i use a hair dryer to make paint dry quickly.
Step 5: Stretchy See Through's
i bought two grades of screen , my previous screen was the coarser size so i thought id try the finer type (will be easyer to clog with dried paint so the washing has to be done quickly, )
when stretching the screen work staple by staple, alternating between opposite sides /corners , then the bits in-between.
try not to over distort the grid/mesh (making diamond shapes) (a little is ok)
if the material starts to tear over the edges dont panic just keep going being gentle near the tear,as long as the screen is still flat and springy, at this stage you working to the ten minuet rule (it only has to hold for ten minuets ) see next step for the fix.
Step 6: Sticky See Through's
paint the outside edges of the frame, this paint is whats going to hold the screen in the long run so use lots and scrub it into the material. (sound obvious but dont paint the middle bit you can see through)
as the emulsion i was using is of shocking poor quality i gave it an additional layer of spray paint to increase its waterproofness.
Step 7: Designifikation
- make an image , keep it simple as everything needs to be cut out one way or another at some point.
- also think about the order your going to lay the layers.and consider that the layers probably will not line up accurately.this thought process takes a little time.
- make several (one for each colour and some for luck) copy's of the image your using with a photocopier or similar.(i used my partially dismantled fax machine.)
to get a feel for the process you may want to start with a 1 or 2 colour image , and note that outlines are tricky
(blocky is easyer and gives nice first try results.)
Step 8: Cut Out and Throw in the Bin
- so youve got a load of copys of your design,
- an idea of the components and order,
- its time to start cutting the bits out.
note that most photocopiers have slight variances in the prints location. (my fax machine varied by 15mm)
Step 9: Get Your Top Off
if printing a tshirt and secure it to a board (i used electrical tape). put the board inside the t shirt , to stop the paint from sticking the front to the back.
i also printed onto some ready-made canvases and a cd wallet
have everything you will need close at hand and have a clear run to the bathroom or wherever you intend to wash your screen., once the paint hits the screen it will dry quickly , you dont want it to dry on your screen.
Step 10: Squeegee Time
- the first print with each sheet is easy place the paper exactly where u want it ,then put the screen on , then paint.
- aim the paint near the holes in the paper ,then squeegee about, but do over lap a bit as its the excess that holds the paper onto the screen.
- further prints (about 5 before the paint dries and clags the screen) are guess work ,unless you use registration marks. remember to work quickly
- wash your screen and squeegee
- wait for your prints to dry before you start the next layer
once youve printed each layer immediately wash the paper and and ink off the screen failure to do so will make your screen unusable.at the washing phase the only other thing to do is watch paint dry so wash it well.
the first screen i made was good for 100 different prints prints over 2 years, then it tore due to poor storage.
i replaced the grey with silver, i know its not difficult to mix grey ,but i had silver!
Step 11: Enjoy Your Counterfeit Merchandise!
not all the colours line up perfectly (you can see from the registration grid)
but its all part of the charm of it.
Step 12: History
this is my original screen i made in 2000,
We have a be nice policy.
Please be positive and constructive.