The Magic of Screen Printing at Home: How to Make a Screen

The Magic of Screen Printing at Home: How to Make a Screen

Once you've decided to give screen printing a try and you've collected all the things you need you're ready to make a screen! 


Follow these steps for making your first silk screen:

1) Prep the Screen

Make sure the screen is free of dust, dirt and hair. You can wash it off and just let it dry if needed. 

2) Apply Emulsion

Apply a very thin layer of emulsion to the front and back of the screen. You can use your squeegee to help get the emulsion thin and even. Do this with haste so that it doesn’t begin to dry. 

3) Let Dry Completely in Dark Area

Once the emulsion is thinly applied to the screen lay it flat in a dark area to dry completely. I put cardboard underneath incase of any drips. Do not let any light in or you may start to unintentionally expose your screen. It will take several hours to dry completely, but you can use a fan to speed the process up.

4) Use Image and Light Table to Expose Screen 

After the screen has dried completely it can be exposed at any time. I wait until after dark to prevent unwanted light when I’m prepping the light table. Quickly, place your image on top of the screen (wood frame side down). Note, you’ll want to flip the image over to mirror it. For example if you have any text, they should appear backwards in this step. Then put the frame on the light table and turn on the lights. Set a timer according to your photo emulsion. With my setup it usually takes about 5 minutes. This is something you may need to test a bit before things wash away as expected.

5) Wash out Image

When the time is up, turn off the light table and quickly start spraying your screen with water. I used my sprayer attachment in my sink. Once the emulsion is completely wet, it’s safe to turn on lights to see what you’re doing. It may take a few minutes, but keep constantly spraying your image and you should see it start to wash away. Don’t stop until you can see light through every part of the image. Note, this is the hardest part of the process and often takes a lot of trial and error adjusting exposure time.

6) Let Dry Completely

Once you’ve washed the image out, let the screen dry completely in the sun. This will help solidify the emulsion. 

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