STEP THREE: MAKING YOUR SCREEN

Preparing your screen is a four part process. I broke it down into adhering the image, burning the image, washing out the screen and drying the screen.

First) adhering the image

Once the emulsion on the screen is dry, it is time to prepare the screen for burning. Take your printed image into the dark room along with your tape and a pair of scissors just incase you need to trim the paper.

This photo shows the images that you want to burn all taped together before you place them on the screen. This should be done in the dark room. The Second photo shows that you should place the images front side down. Both of these steps should be done in the dark room.

The photo on the right shows the images that you want to burn all taped together before you place them on the screen. The Second photo shows that you should place the images front side down. Both of these steps should be done in the dark room. However, for the sake of demonstration these photos were taken in the light.

Using as little tape as possible, tape the paper or transparency image side down onto the front of the screen. If you are only burning one image, line it up so the in the center of the screen. If you are arranging more than one image on a screen, make sure they are each facing in a logical position for what you are printing. Also, leave at least one inch between the edge of the emulsion and the image and at least two inches between the images.

Second) burning the image

The term burning has nothing to do with fire… just for the record. There should be no matches or lighters involved in screen-printing process! This is just what screen printers call the process of exposing the emulsion.

Take your screen out of the dark room and place it on the light box so the paper is pressed against the glass. On top the screen you should stack the foam, the plywood and the weights consecutively. This will flatten any bumps in the paper and give you a nice sharp image.

This is a close up of what the burning process looks like at each step of placing the screen on the light box

This is a close up of what the burning process looks like at each step of placing the screen on the light box.

Cover the screen with the black out cover and then switch on the light box. You shouldn’t be able to see any light penetrating the cover. Set your time for 8 minutes.

What happens while the timer ticks away? Well the black light from the light box is exposing the emulsion. However, where the black parts of the image are the light will not penetrate and those bits of emulsion will not harden like the rest.

Once the time is up, uncover the screen and remove the pieces of paper. You should be able to vaguely see the differences in color of the emulsion. Where it is not exposed should be a yellowish brown color and where is it exposed should be a darkish purple.

Third) washing out the image

Take the screen to the washroom or wherever you have access to a spray gun.

Gently spray the screen with water. You will see bubbles forming. This is good. It is the emulsion washing off. Don’t hold the spray gun in one place for too long or else you might blow out the image.

Take your time and wash the screen. The image will literally appear before your eyes.

NOTE:

Just to make sure that the image has washed out completely, you can hold the screen up to the light. You should be able to see though the parts that will print.

Finally) drying the screen

Once the screen is washed. Move it back into the dark room. Place it in front of a small rotating fan for 30 minutes to dry.