Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Screen Printing

Not too long ago, I was shopping for kraft bags for my arts market customers. The box of 500 bags that I bought last year are already gone...plus they were really a tad too big. I bought them because they were actually cheaper then the next smallest size. Go figure. Anyhow, this time I splurged on green bags because my Bird-E Towels are an eco-friendly green product. I also wanted to have my business name printed on them. I quickly ruled that out because of the cost! They were pretty pricey per bag and there was a set up fee that was pretty high.

In the past, I have tried a variety of ways to get my name on my bags...stickers that weren't super secure because I have the re-positionable kind, I also used a stamp but it didn't stand out. I stumbled across a screen printing website...and I was instantly interested. Not just for my little bag project but for the other possibilities.

I bought a hobby kit from www.silkscreeningsupplies.com and I am glad I did. I made a few mistakes in the process & I had to email their customer support. They replied very quickly and gave me a ton of helpful advice. I'm afraid that if I had just bought the supplies elsewhere that I would have been ready to throw the towel after my first disastrous attempt.

The basic steps are:clean you silk screen, let it dry
  • apply emulsion to screen in a light safe room & let it dry
  • make your design negative on the computer & print it on transparency film
  • tape your transparency onto your screen & 'burn' the design by exposing the whole screen to uv rays
  • rinse the screen with a water sprayer/hose. The parts that were covered by your negative will rinse away.
  • let your screen dry again
  • then you are finally ready to actually get the ink out and print! But don't get too excited yet. There is still a learning curve.

I thought I followed all the steps but I couldn't get the ink through parts of the design. Customer service helped me realize that my screen was actually under exposed. I spent an entire morning trying to get the old emulsion off. Looked so easy on the video...oh yeah, they used a pressure washer. Our pressure washer was stolen last year. I was never able to get it wall off even after all that effort. I wrote on the sides of the screen so that I would know which areas to avoid when I burned my new design.

Oh and somehow I ended up buying a new Epson printer and a pressure washer to help me with future screen printing projects. chaching!

So it has been quite a process but it was fun learning something new. :)