The Magic of Screen Printing at Home: What you need to get Started

The Magic of Screen Printing at Home: What you need to get Started

Are you ready to tackle the magical world of screen printing? Perhaps you're just curious what goes into the process and I manage to get all my art on those cool towels. Here's a list of everything I use to screen print from home.


What You Need

  • Pre-stretched Screen or Wooden Frame and Fabric Mesh
  • Photo Emulsion
  • Dark Area
  • Light Table
  • Art Image
  • Squeegee
  • Ink
  • Fabric

A few notes:

The Screen - You can find pre stretched screens for screen printing or you can stretch your own (using a wooden frame, screen printing mesh, and a stapler). A few things to note are, make sure you choose something that’s at least a couple inches larger than the image you want to create. The size of the fabric mesh will determine how fine of detail you can create with your print. I generally use 160 - 200 for my more detailed images. When stretching a frame yourself, make sure to get the fabric as tight as possible.

Photo Emulsion - There are lots of brands and options so pick something and just follow the instructions it comes with to determine how to prep and expose the screen. I use a water based, diazo activated photo emulsion which requires me to first mix some distilled water with the diazo packet and then mix that packet into the jar of emulsion. Once I do that and let it set a few hours, it’s ready to use. 

Dark Area - Once you apply the photo emulsion to the screen you’ll need to store it in a dark place to dry. I use a closet so that I can keep all light out. 

Light Table - You'll need a light table to expose your screen when it’s ready. I made one by clamping some desk lights to a small table and laying black fabric on bottom (to prevent light bouncing off the table surface). Depending on your photo emulsion you may need to add different types of light bulbs to the lamp used.

Art Image - Print your image on a clear sheet of transparency paper in black ink

Squeegee - Make sure you have a squeegee that will fit inside the size of frame you have

Ink - I use water based fabric inks from Speedball

Fabric - Have something to test print on and make sure whatever fabric you pick can be laid flat with no wrinkles and does not have a rough or coarse texture that would prevent the image from transfering in enough detail (think something like burlap)

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