So, last week I taught a screen printing class for adults where I simplified the technique so it can cheaply and easily be done at home.
Before we start, any REAL printers out there I know that this isn't the 'proper' way to print and I am improvising with materials, but I am a huge advocate of 'making do' and if something does a job and allows people to have a play with something crafty then I for one am all for it! :)
I am not a printer, I am an Art and Craft teacher who looooves experimenting! Hopefully you can join me!
- Embroidery hoop - easily purchased at haberdashers for a couple of £s, go for the biggest one you can find then you can always print smaller if you like.
- A piece of voile type mesh - you won't need much. If we're being honest here I actually used an old voile curtain that I had taken down as it had ripped! You will be able to find something similar for a couple fo £s again.
- Small pieces of strong card - something as thick as mountboard is ideal. Strong corrugated card would work but will deteriorate much quicker.
- Craft or stanley knife and something to cut on - ideally a cutting mat but an old plastic chopping board or thick piece of mountboard will do.
- Here I have used block printing inks but acrylic paint or fabric paint which is not too thin will also do the trick!
- Masking tape.
Choose a design that is simple to start with. Simple geometric shapes work really well for screenprinting so if you are unsure to start with, how about a series of triangles of different sizes or chevrons. If you don't have much experience using a stanley knife I would recommend sticking to straight lines for your first one as curves are much harder. There are lots of patterns and shapes that you can print off the internet - just be sure not to infringe any copyright.
I chose these two as I was interested in doing a layered, two colour print.
Step 2 -
You now need to make a stencil with your chosen design. You can do this in either paper or acetate. The benefit of acetate is that it can be washed and used again and again, paper you will only get 3 - 4 uses out of it at most. Again, in the interest of keeping costs down and improvisation, I have used laminator sheets instead of acetate (pack of 50 from the £1 shop). I actually find them better as they are thinner and also have a bit of natural static in them. Carefully cut around the design using a craft knife making sure that your fingers on the other hand are always away from the direction of the blade. If you have a sharp blade you should be able to cut through the acetate and the paper together or you ay prefer to trace it through with a permanent marker. Don't be disheartened if it is not as neat as you would like at this stage, it is unlikely to affect your screenprint and this bit takes a lot of practice.
I have done one on acetate and one on paper to show you that they both work just as well!
Step 3 -
Take your embroidery hoop and stretch a piece of the mesh across it. Tighten your hoop as tight as it will go and pull the edges of the mesh so it is taut across the hoop - like the top of a drum. Trim the edges of the mesh with scissors - this doesnt need to be too neat but leave approx 2cm all the way around so you can pull tight again if it loosens off.
Step 4 -
Place the piece of paper or fabric that you are printing on flat on the table and place your stencil over the top. If you are doing 2 or more colours like me, this will be the stencil that will be in the background of your print. Use a small piece of masking tape to hold the stencil to the paper or fabric. Place your 'screen' over the top of your stencil. You will need to use your other hand to hold it down tightly whilst printing. Squeeze a large amount of ink or paint onto another surface -either another piece of card or a plate. You will always need more ink/ paint than you think you will and you wont be able to squeeze more out whilst prinitng so best to have too much than too little!
Step 5 -
Pick up your small piece of stiff card. When printing 'properly' this is called a squeegee! Using this card pick up a large blob of the ink and dot across the top of the design. Hold the edge of the screen down tightly with your non dominant hand. Holding your squeegee with your other hand at a 45 degree angle from the surface of the paper scrape down across the design. This action will be pushing the ink through the screen and through cut areas the stencil. Continue to pick up more ink and scrape across until all areas of your design are covered.
I have gone right up to the edge of the hoop on this stencil as my design was larger than the edge of the hoop but if you design fits neatly within the circle you can just go over the area of the design (like I have with the black later on).
Step 6 -
Carefully peel back your screen and stencil from the paper or fabric. You should now have your first screen print! Wahoooooo!
Leave the print to dry (or blast with a hairdryer if you are impatient like me!) Then wash and dry your screen and stencil and repeat the same process with the other layers of your print. You will need a new squeegee for each colour.
It is a good idea to work from lightest colour through to darkest so the colours sit nicely on top of each other.
And here is my finished print! Ready to crop and frame!
I hope you have found this tutorial useful, I would love it if you could leave a coent below with any other tutorials you might like to see.
For more inspiration for printing ideas check out my Facebook page where I will post more finished outcomes from the people who attended this class in real life!
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Thanks for reading,
Lots of Halfpenny love,