First Attempt at screen printing!

screenprintingWe had a staff development day at work last week, and the highlight for me was the chance to finally have a go at screen printing! I’ve wanted to try it for a while, and when I saw it was on offer, I was there like a shot.

The workshop tech had prepared the screens already, so the designs had already been exposed onto them. It gave us all a choice from several images, so naturally I chose the Enfield motorbike!

Here’s the equipment, ready to go. That’s just the weight from a weightlifting machine to hold the screen down flat on my practice fabric, and that mixture in the cup is a gelatinous medium, black fabric dye, and soda ash to fix the dye once it’s been printed. The only thing not in the shot is the squeegee required to actually move the ink!

screenprintingSo after getting the screen placed on my fabric, I scooped a generous dollop of the dye/medium mixture onto the screen. Next step was to firmly drag it down the screen, using three passes to ensure there was enough ink. I used a piece of cardboard to scrape it back into the cup when I was done. I didn’t take a photo of this one, but I did try the process again using orange fabric dye, and a different design.

Isn’t this cool? I used the heatpress on this when it was dry to ‘fix’ the design, so the fabric is now washable and the design won’t go anywhere. It’s certainly a different process to using the vinyl cutter and heatpress which I’ve used before to make custom T-shirts.

The next option on the training day was to try using permanent ink. I went back to the Enfield motorbike design and added it to the back of a British Museum tote bag I had lying around in the office.

screenprintingI dried this one with a hair dryer, and ‘fixed’ the design using the heatpress again. I’m pretty pleased with it! One of my colleagues also tried printing onto silicon paper, and then heatpressing that onto a dark grey sweatshirt – I wish I’d gotten the email sooner about taking things in, and I could have put the motorbike on a black T-shirt!

There were a range of techniques to try, such as offsetting the design using different colours, but I’m pretty pleased with what I actually tried.

Have you ever tried screen printing? If you got the chance to, would you? Let me know!

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