How to Screen Print

Screen printing has been around since ancient China. It’s been used to print on various items such as CDs, t-shirts, metal, wood, billboards, magazines, and various others. Today we will go over how to create a screen printed t-shirt. With a little imagination, some minor cannibalization (not that kind), and some minor saturation, we can create a fashionable, yet functional form fitting piece of art!

Required Materials

  • A t-shirt (any color, any size — just make sure it’s clean)
  • Screen printing ink (this can be found at art supply stores)
  • Some glue (elmer’s glue is fine)
  • Any kind of sheet material (like pantyhose, nylon, old sheets or tulle)

Required Tools

  • Embroidery hoop (I suggest getting it when you go to the art store — don’t steal it from Grandma, she won’t like it!)
  • Paint brushes (a wide variety would be good, you can get multipacks that have various sizes)
  • Art squeegee (this is optional, but it really helps!)
  • Computer and printer (so you can print out the pictures you want to paint)

Instructions

  1. Get designing! Go on your computer and find or create that great picture you want to strut on your fabulous, yet functional, piece of wear. Good contrast images work the best for screen printing.
  2. When you find and/or create your picture, you need to go into the options of the art program and convert the image to black and white.
  3. Now it’s time to take the embroidery hoop you didn’t borrow from your grandmother and make sure the image you slaved over is no larger than that hoop. I like to go to print preview and try and eyeball how big it will be on the paper while holding the hoop on a blank sheet. This works best for me, but you can print it and check, enlarging or shrinking as needed.
  4. Now take your sheet material and pull it through the embroidery hoop and secure it in place.
  5. Place the hoop on top of the picture you just printed out. Make sure the sheet material is sitting directly on the paper and trace the image onto the material.
  6. When done, take the glue and trace the picture. When done, turn the hoop over and use the glue to cover the WHITE areas of the picture. The ink will not go anywhere the glue goes.
  7. Set grandma’s embroidery hoop, I mean, your embroidery hoop out to let the glue dry. Once it’s fully dried, place the hoop onto your fashionable yet functional t-shirt sheer side down.
  8. Apply the ink through the sheer material, use the small art squeegee to evenly move the ink and get full saturation. We need to make sure not to use an excessive amount.
  9. Gently remove the hoop from the t-shirt and set it out to dry. While waiting, confer with the screen printing instructions on how to permanently affix the image to the shirt. This usually involves ironing.
  10. Now, after the image is affixed, hold a fashion show!

This is a great way to make personalized gifts for the holiday season. The steps above are for a black and white image. If you want to do color images, follow the steps above for each color (the one we did was for the color black). The main thing to do is have fun!

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