Author Options:

What is the easiest and cheapest way to teach basic screen printing to middle schoolers? Answered

I am hoping to beg, borrow, or make most of what we need, but any help would be appreciated.



8 years ago

Nylon mesh for windows and storm doors is pretty cheap at most hardware and building-supplies stores.  If you have to buy it in packages, look for something meant for a patio door and pay close attention to how much you're getting for your dollar.  If you can, buy it by the foot because it'll be much cheaper. 

Don't buy metal screening for middle-schoolers, there's lots of sharp edges that you'd have to cover up and that would increase your costs.

At the same store, you can probably pick up some 2"x2"x8' lumber and some medium-grit sandpaper.  You'll need to work out how much wood you'll need based on how many frames you want to make.  I'd suggest making a square-foot frame for each kid, so you'll need 4' each.  2"x2" is often warped, so be warned that you'll want to buy at least a few extra for wastage.  You should be able to buy each stick for less than a dollar.

All this assumes you have the tools and know-how to cut and join the wood and a staplegun to attach the mesh to the frames. 

I always forget to add important things.

Once you've got the frames, cheap latex paint would be ideal for painting your designs (or more accurately, the negative space around the designs) on the screens.  Then you can use cheap fabric paints and a dollar-store squeegie to make the prints happen on t-shirts, or plain-old tempra paint to make them happen on paper.

That's a very interesting idea. I would have thought that window screen would be way too large a mesh to work for screen printing. I may have to try this sometime, I have loads of old window screen....

Makes sense. The only downside I'm seeing is that you'd have to swap the screen out to reuse the frame, instead of just cleaning it and reapplying the  blocker. It's cheap enough that that's not a major issue, though.

I wonder how well it would work  if you applied the design onto the screen using adhesive shelf paper or plain old duct tape. Then when you were done printing you could just peel off the tape, give it a quick rinse, and reuse the screen.
Also, since the mesh size is so large, I bet a regular paint roller would work as a squeegee substitute. This is starting to sound like something I could do with the Cub Scout troop....

Tape or contact paper might work, but there's a higher chance of the image bleeding through.

Paint roller might work, depending on how thick your fabric paints are.  Those little foam rollers would be useless for most fabric paint, but a nice wooly one might work just fine.

Let us know if you try it and how it all goes :).

There's lots of room with screenprinting for playing around and tweaking.

I'll try and sell the idea to our den leader for the upcoming "make a den flag" project. If she goes for it, I'll be sure to post a picture. If it somehow turns into an Instructable, I'll be sure to give you credit for the idea.