STEP FOUR: PRINTING

The printing process is really where you have all the fun. If you have on clothes that you don’t want to ruin, its important to wear an apron because the ink is permanent. I would recommend wearing something that you don’t mind getting paint on.

First things first, you should pick out the color that you want to print with. Screen-printing inks come in every color including a variety of shiny/metallic colors. There are also some specialty inks such as glow in the dark and transparent bases that are used for thinning out colors.

Gather your printing supplies: spatula, bowl, squeegee, masking tape, and plastic square.

Place the screen front side down into the clamp and tighten the bolts to hold it in place.

TEST PRINT

For the test print, place the transparent paper on the printing surface and tape it in place. Lower the screen. With your spatula, scoop a small amount of ink onto the screen along the top edge of the image. With a firm amount of pressure, drag the squeegee over the screen from top to bottom, spreading the paint. Then, reverse the motion and drag the squeegee back to the top. Look at the screen and make sure that the whole image has been covered with ink.

Lift the screen up to see the finished product.

FINAL PRINT AND DRYING

using a blow-dryer to dry a small screen the controls for a conveyor belt heater

Top: You can use a blow-dryer in place of a fan for drying the screen after washing, but it is also useful for drying ink after printing. Bottom: These are the controls for a conveyor belt heater. The left knob should be turned to the "on" position. The middle knob should be set in the middle for a moderately slow speed. The right knob should be on the "textile" setting for all fabrics.

Let the transparent image dry for a few minutes so it doesn’t smear. Then, place the t-shirt (or whatever you are printing on) on the printing surface. Lay the transparent paper over the t-shirt to line up the image. You will need to move it t-shirt around to arrange it correctly under the transparent image.

Once you have the shirt positioned correctly, set the transparent paper to the side, lower the screen and repeat the steps listed in the test print step.

After you print each image, you will need to dry the shirt. If you have access to a conveyor belt heater, that works the best. The heater needs to warm up for a few minutes first. Run the shirt through three times. If you don’t have a heater machine, you can use a hair dryer, it will just take longer. Don't hold the hair dryer for too long in one spot because you could singe the fabric.

blow drying a screen

NOTE:

The ink will darken slightly as it dries. It is important to remember this if you are printing on a dark shirt or fabric. Light colors will not show up on black or sometimes even dark blue shirts. A quick fix that sometimes works is adding just a little white ink to whatever color you are printing with.