Introduction: Screen Printing Tutorial Part 2: Creating a Printing Screen

This is the second in a series of three screen printing tutorials, in which I will describe the process I use to create the hand printed items for sale in my Etsy shop, The Dog House. Over the course of the tutorials I will show you how to use a photograph to create a screen printed product, using the example below.

This specific tutorial will show you how to make a printing screen using the monochrome image which you created in the first part of this tutorial.

Step 1: What You Will Need

  • a computer print out of the monochrome image which you wish to screen print
  • an embroidery hoop large enough to accommodate your monochrome image
  • fabric (non-water-soluble) glue
  • a pair of tights (nylons) - the tighter the weave, the more detailed the resulting print will be
  • a coloured pencil (in a colour that will show up on the tights you are using)
  • a cheap/old paint brush

Step 2: Setting Up the Blank Screen

Loosen the outer part of the embroidery hoop & stretch the tights (nylons) across the inner ring, pulling taught. Carefully place the inner ring back into the outer, then screw it securely shut over the tights. Trim off any excess material from the edges, leaving a smooth, taught surface to be used as your screen.

Step 3: Transferring Your Image From Paper to Screen

Lay the screen you have just made flat on top of the paper print out of your monochrome image. (Make sure the screen is the correct way up with the stretched tights in contact with the paper, as opposed to upside down with a gap between the paper & the material ). Use the coloured pencil to trace through the image onto the screen.

At this point you can refer back to the original photograph & add in any additional details, such as the whiskers in the case, which have been lost in the conversion to monochrome. You can include as much or as little detail as you like. I like to draw smooth lines & geometric shapes rather than stick faithfully to the monochrome image, but that's just my personal preference.

Step 4: Painting the Image Onto the Screen With Glue (1)

Now you need to decide whether you would like to print the black parts of your image in dark ink onto a lighter coloured fabric, or alternatively the white parts of your image in light ink onto a darker coloured fabric. Although any image can be printed in either way (a good example is my'Just Jess' design, which I have printed in both ways, having created two separate screens), in the example I am using here, I have chosen to print in light ink onto dark fabric.

Step 5: Painting the Image Onto the Screen With Glue (2)

Use a paint brush to carefully paint a thin layer of fabric (non-water-soluble) glue onto any areas of the screen through which you do not want ink to go. In this case, I want to print the white parts of my image, so I filled the black parts with glue. However, if you want to print the black parts of your image, you need simply do the reverse i.e. fill all the white parts of your image with glue.

It's important to ensure that the material of the screen is not touching the surface on which you are working, otherwise you will end up glueing the screen to the surface! You can switch to a finer brush to paint thin lines & detailed parts of the image, & use a thicker brush to apply glue to larger areas of the screen, including a border of 1-2 inches outside the outline of your image.

Once you have filled all the black (or white) parts of the screen with a thin layer of glue, set the screen aside (propped upright so that it doesn't stick to anything) & allow to dry before turning over & repeating the process on the other side. (It isn't strictly necessary to repeat the glue-painting process on both sides of the screen, but I find that it results in a crisper print & a more durable screen which can be re-used over & over again.)

Once the screen is completely dry, it is ready to use to make a print of your image, which I'll describe how to do in the next & final tutorial in this series.