Intro: Silk Screening a Tshirt
I haven't done silk screening since the old days of film and chemicals. I took the silk screen class at the Tech Shop http://www.techshop.ws and learned the newer, gentler method.
the class description said that you could come with a simple black and white design ready.
I came ready, but my design was not that simple. I had decided to make a design for a Tshirt about the family ranch. I asked my grand kids what I should put on it and my granddaughter said a frog. But my husband said it should be a deer. Both creatures are in abundant evidence at the ranch. I decided to do both. The Tech Shop uses corel draw or adobe illustrator. I have corel draw. I found a 'shadow' design of a deer (and filled it with white and found a rather detailed frog I liked and filled it with black. I made the frog big with the deer inside its borders.
I made the ranch branch and wrote out the words 'the ranch' because that is what the family usually calls it.
I loaded it up on my thumb drive.
Since I had already taken the vinyl cutter class at the Tech Shop http://www.techshop.ws and I had my thumb drive at the ready. I was allowed to go ahead of the rest of the class and set up and cut my design at the laser cutter.
The next step is 'weeding'. Just like in the garden you remove what you don't want. I didn't take a picture of this because I was so intent on all the weeding I had to do - I picked and chose which part of the frog's details I wanted to keep, and which cuts of the design I should ignore. Admittedly, keeping the centers of the warts and those deer antlers was not easy. The best tools the Tech Shop offers for this are dental tools to pick out only what you want. It was a slow process.
Once the weeding was done I covered the whole thing with an adhesive sheet which holds the pieces in place; keeping the integrity of the design. (These pictures are from another project, but the process is the same)
Next I chose a screen. Since I had small Tshirts (kid size) I chose a smaller screen and one with a slight flaw (the previous user had not cleaned one little part entirely). And here is where I made my big mistake. I placed my design too low on the screen to avoid that flaw. So loading up the ink and having the space to first spread the ink lightly in a 'flooding' run before spreading the ink for printing proved beyond my meager skill set and my tests were all a fat mess - too much ink coming through. If I had a picture of myself doing this it would be of great disappointment. It had been a long day and a long class (one other guy had had the same trouble as I did, of too much ink, and someone else needed to also reprint)
Sonja (the teacher) and I agreed that I would come back and correct my mistakes and get the hang of it later, but for now we both wanted to see this design work. Sonja knocked out 4 little Ts in a matter of minutes while I acted as assistant (It is a messy process and that ink can get everywhere - I am bringing latex gloves next time) I was so grateful to her for turning around a defeat. I went home elated.
As you can see the grand kids appreciated the end result as well.