How To Make Shirts With A Silkscreener


So you want to make shirts with a silkscreener? Well, you have several options on how to do it!

Method #1

There are technically 2 silkscreen camps- solvent based and water based. You use the opposite with the opposite inks. though I just found this new product called mask-ease totally waterbased!!!

Step 1

Decide what kind you want to use. I would recomend solvent based screen with water based ink. In the long run it’s less toxic. And the screen will make 1000’s of copies. But if you’re on a low budget use the mask-ease.(I’ll give seperate directions for that)

Step 2

Come up with a design. For each color you will be using you need a seperate screen. That means another cut and the tricky problem of registration. You also need to know that you will get black and you will get white- no tones.

Step 3.

Cutting. Most films are clear. That means all you have to do is tape your design down to a piece of board with the film on top of it. Then you need a very sharp exacto knife with extra blades. You will notice that the film has 2 layers a green (or amber) and a clear. The green side should be up. This is what you’ll be cutting through. When you cut DON’T cut through the clear side. When you cut you will be cutting away the parts that you want to print. Its a cut and peel process. Cut edges peel out center.

Step 4.

Clean off all of the chunks of the green stuff. If you don’t there will be blobs on the screen.

Step 5.

Get out cans of solvent and READ DIRECTIONS.

Step 6.

Degrease screen and apply mask read directions on can.

Step 7.

Mask out areas around the green, now adheared film. Masking tape works well, but duct tape lasts longer.

Step 8.

Make a test run on cheap paper. Line up ink on one edge and squeege it all of the way down. You should do this until you get the feel of it and can make the ink force through the screen with only one pass. You’re striving for an even layer of ink.

Step 9.

Either printing on good paper or cloth. Good paper is easy line it up and print away. T-shirts are not so easy. Stretch them out on a piece of cardboard so that they are tight with a textile agent (which can be bought at any craft store and will turn almost any craft acrylic paint into a textile ink). Check to see if your ink/paint needs to be heat set. If so, do so. To be on the safe side throw the shirts when DRY into a dryer for 1/2 hour on high.

Method #2

Maskease

You can pick up this toxic yellow film at a craft store or a catalog. It comes with instructions. The most important thing with this is that you reverse your image and then cut. I transfer my stuff directly to the yellow film with a lightbox and sharpie marker. Because this film is so heavy you can actually streatch cheese cloth to a frame and print through it. Or you can go to a department store and buy those thin gauzy curtains and stretch part of that (the really fine ugly stuff that your grandmother probably has in her house). The film is transfered to the screen through the use of a low tack and pressure sensitive adhesive. Read the istructions. Once you get it on there refer to steps 7 & 8 above.

Maskease is available through DICK BLICK at 1.800.447.8192. Ask them to send you a catalog, the big 1999 catalog. Lie and tell them that you are starting an artsgroup or that it is for your school or organization. Something they tend to be is somewhat stingy with their catalog.

Method #3

This method is fairly simple. You need:

a printed image of your design (make sure the paper isn’t too thick or too thin)
an exacto knife
a piece of stiff cardboard
a screen and board
ink
squeegie
t-shirt , canvas, or whatever else you’re going to print on
masking tape
An art supply store should have the screens, ink and squeegies.

Take your printed image and cut out the design you want printed with the exacto knife. If you want it to show up on what you’re printing, cut it out. When you’ve finished doing that, lay your shirt tight across the board and take your piece of cardboard and place it inside so the paint doesn’t go through to the back. Make sure there are no wrinkles in the shirt before you start. Then tape your image down on a clean screen with masking tape, making sure no empty part of the screen is uncovered. Place your screen on top of the shirt and pull the shirt tightly from all corners. Pour a glob of paint onto the screen and move it around with the squeegie, being sure to cover every part of the screen equally. When you’re done, carefully lift the screen off the shirt (you’ll probably need someone to hold the shirt down while you lift the screen).Take the cardboard out of the middle very carefully so it doesn’t dry to the shirt or smear. Wash the ink out of your screen immediately so it doesn’t dry (if it does, you can try using rubbing alcohol or paint thinner). Use Mr. Clean or a little bit of paint thinner to get it all off. You probably won’t be able to use your printed image more than a couple of times because it gets soggy each time and rips. Let the ink on your shirt dry overnight and then take the shirt and put it in the dryer on high for a full cycle. When you wash it, be sure to turn it inside out so the paint doesn’t become damaged.

Method #4

This method is a lot more economical but more time consuming than the method above. You need:

a printed image of your design
a pencil
a small, soft paintbrush
Speedball Screen Filler
a screen and board
a piece of cardboard
ink
squeegie
t-shirt or whatever else you’re going to print on
An art supply store should have all these materials available (except the shirts, you can buy those anywhere).

Place your printed image underneath your screen and trace it with the pencil. Then paint on the screen filler in every place you don’t want the ink to go through. Let it set for about 4 hours in an elevated, horizontal position. When it’s dry, lay your shirt tight across the board and take your piece of cardboard and place it inside so the paint doesn’t go through to the back. Make sure there are no wrinkles in the shirt. Place the screen on top of the shirt. Pour a glob of paint onto the screen and move it around with the squeegie, being sure to cover every part of the screen equally. When you’re done, carefully lift the screen off the shirt (you’ll probably need someone to hold the shirt down while you lift the screen).Take the cardboard out of the middle very carefully so it doesn’t dry to the shirt or smear. Wash the ink out of your screen immediately so it doesn’t dry (if it does, you can try using rubbing alcohol or paint thinner). Let the ink dry on your shirt overnight and then put it in the dryer on high for a full cycle. When you wash it, be sure to turn it inside out so the paint doesn’t become damaged. If you want to remove the filler completely, use Mr. Clean and a stiff brush. Pour some Mr. Clean on the screen and scrub it and then pour a little more Mr. Clean and allow the screen to stand in a horizontal position for three minutes. Then spray it with hot water and scrub some more to get all the filler off. If you want to use the image again, just rinse off all the ink and let the screen dry. Filler lasts for about 100 runs.

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