[DIY] Silkscreen with stencil

What you'll need for silkscreen:
  • Stencil
  • Silkscreen frame
  • Paint scraper (also a dough scraper can be used)
  • Squeegee or conditionally you can also use the dough scraper for the colour application
  • Fabric paint for silkscreen
  • Maybe a brush to make corrections
  • Tape
  • Fabric
  • Cardboard or old fabric as a base
  • Iron
To begin with, you’ll need a stencil for your silkscreen. If you want to create it by yourself on the computer without owning any graphic program, you can use Inkscape or Gimp as free alternatives to Photoshop or Illustrator. Both programs are subjects to the GNU license.

What you’ll need for a stencil:
  • (Printed) Motif
  • Transparent envelope
  • Waterproof pen
  • Scissors and/or cutter
  • Cardboard as a base if you are using a cutter (the back of a spiral-bound notepad as very suitable for that)
Alternatively, you can also make the stencil out of the printed paper (single-use) or you can use a printable foil (more expensive).
Print your desired motif. Put it in a transparent envelope and copy it with a waterproof pen.
After copying the motif, separate the painted side from the rest of the transparent envelope und adhere it with tape on both sides. This makes the stencil more solid and more appropriate for a repeated use. Cut out the areas that shall be printed later on. For a more detailed work nail scissors and/or a cutter are very helpful.
If your motif has enclosed spaces, stick them on a double-sided tape. Then adhere them on the areas of the screen that shouldn’t be covered with paint. But to simplify your work, better choose a motif without enclosed spaces.
Stick your stencil with tape on the back of the silkscreen frame. Make sure that you tape also the areas of the backside, which are not covered by the stencil. In order to not stain the screen too much, you can also tape the areas of the front side, which are outside of the stencil.
To protect the work surface put below the screen a cardboard or an old fabric. Make a test print on a fabric remnant. Ensure that the fabric to be printed is ironed and tautened (maybe fix it with pins or tape on the working base). Put the paint with the paint scraper on the screen above the stencil and move the paint with to the squeegee back and forth several times. How often depends on the density of the screen fabric, the consistency of the drying of the paint. If you want to print a T-shirt, also give a cardboard or an old fabric in between the back and the front of the T-shirt. During a printing process you can print the motif about 2-3 times.
If spots have to be corrected, use a brush. Let it dry afterwards.
Wash the screen quickly after printing. Otherwise the paint dries and clogs the screen fabric (don’t wait longer than 30 min after printing). To wash it by using circular movements is recommended. If you let the stencil on the screen and take care that it doesn’t tear, you can also use it for the next printing (however, only when the screen is dry again).
When the print is dry, put a fabric remnant below the print and fix the paint by ironing the print on the wrong side (inner side) 1-3 min without steam. If you have used a cotton or linen fabric, iron the fabric at 140-150 °C (usually 2 points on the iron). If fixation is done properly, the fabric is washable up to 60 °C. However if you want to play it safe, it is advisable to wash the fabric at lower temperatures or by hand.

Have we inspired you to silkscreen? If you need some help, just contact us. And please show us what you did with a couple of pictures after you finished your project. (Anna, dieKulturvermittlung, 15.04.2015)

Picture credits: (cc) dieKulturvermittlung

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