Screenprinting At Home

I learned how to screen print in a printing class earlier this summer, and I did a lot of research on my own to figure out how to do this at home. Some of you asked for more information about this process, so I thought it might be fun to share the basic steps with you of how I did it.

First, I put photo emulsion on the two screens I have.

I didn’t do as good an application on that screen because the coverage was a little spotty. But I kept going to see how it would come out. (came out fine, by the way) Note: at this point, this coating makes the screen light-sensitive so it’s best to keep it in a dark place (such as a box) until you’re ready to burn your image into it.

Next, I had my graphics printed onto a transparency film. Then I laid that transparency directly onto the screen and put a piece of glass over it for a tighter seal. Now I’m ready to burn my graphics onto the screen.

Next I put a photo-light over the screen (in a dark room) to burn my image into the emulsion, creating a stencil.

Here’s what the screen looks like when the image is burned into the emulsion, but before I rinsed out the emulsion where the image is.

Here’s what the screen looks like after it’s been rinsed, revealing a stencil that will allow ink to pass through. It’s very helpful to have a utility sink next to our laundry area, and right next to my screen printing corner, so I can rinse off my screens so easily.

Now I’m ready to pull ink over my screens. I used black screenprinting ink because I love the black and white look right now. I put ink on the left side of this smaller screen because my squeegee doesn’t fit the other way. That red squeegee is what I used to pull ink across the screen. (I’ve also seen people use an old credit card or stiff piece of cardboard.) The ink goes through the holes of the stencil of my image that I created above. I started out on scrap paper to make sure the ink was going through the stencil evenly.

Then I switched to some textured notepaper that I’m planning to write letters on.

I also printed on white canvas and cotton fabrics. I’m going to sew these fabric pieces into something, most likely my favorite things to make, a sketchbook cover, zipper bag or tote bag like I did last time.

I also added a couple more butterflies to the back and side of the two tshirts I did in class this summer.

After rinsing the ink off my screens, I cleaned off the stencils using a photo emulsion remover to get that blue coating off the screens, which is another reason why it’s nice to have a utility sink in our laundry area in the basement.

I’m already looking forward to my next screen printing experiment, with some new artwork to try, and some different ink colors too. Might be fun to do more fabrics and share them in my shop. What a great experiment this was for my first time screen printing by myself and at home!

Thanks for stopping by!

16 comments

  • Great results! Can’t wait to see more!

  • Thank you Terri, this was interesting and exiting! x Teje

  • c0nsistentlyinc0nsistent

    Wow – that’s quite a process but worth it because of the lovely results you get. How handy that you have a sink right next to your screen printing area for washing off your screens. I’ve always imagined it to be quite a messy process and your confirmed that so I’m happy to leave it to the pro that you are 🙂

    I certainly look forward to seeing more of your screen printing – such a fabulous technique to be able to create unique fabrics and designs.

  • Wow, I love how your butterflies turned out! Thanks so much for sharing the process, it’s great to see all of the steps that it takes to end up with the final product!

  • How fun to do that at your house at your own 🙂 I liked watching the process and it was neat how you use a regular lamp to burn the image into a stencil–awesome!!

    • Thanks Sara! It was a lot of fun to be able to do this at home. A great activity for a Friday night, with some fun music and a cocktail 😉 I’m already looking forward to doing this more often. I used a regular desk lamp, but needed a 150W photo lightbulb so the light would get hot enough to burn a stencil through the emulsion coating on the screen. Very hot stuff!

      > Date: Tue, 4 Sep 2012 17:47:43 +0000 > To: tadawilhelm@hotmail.com >

  • Cool. Thanks for sharing. Does that mean you can use your screen over and over again? (I mean for different designs…you clean the blue emulsion off and then put a different design on?)

  • This has always been a complete mystery to me. I’m so glad you showed it step by step.

  • Wow you make it seem so easy! I was thinking of looking into screen printing as I find appliqueing takes too long to be viable…Do you think the cost of the ingredients (especially the emulsions!) is worth it?

    Those butterflies are gorgeous by the way 🙂

    • Thanks so much! I really love screenprinting. In my opinion, it’s definitely worth the investment. The kit and supplies I used in this post cost me no more than $75 USD. It came with small sizes of the emulsion and other chemicals necessary, just enough to try this on 2 screens. And it came with 3 jars of different colors of ink. Since I liked it so much, I could add more supplies as my finances can afford. Hope you get to try it!

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  • Hi Terri, thanks for your wonderful tutorial. I took some screen printing classes and even have some frames left with stencils on, but so far have been hesitant to do it at home. From your experience, would you also do screenprinting at home if you did not have a utility sink?
    Thanks!

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