workshop

Screen Print Your Own T-shirts 

Searching for t-shirts with a print that you resonate with is hard, you want t-shirts with logos and prints of your favourite band or artist, at times like this why not print your design on your t-shirt by yourself. This article will give you a detailed step by step process on screen printing on your own t-shirt. Through this you will be able to print your own designs too!

Materials 

Screen 

Squeegee 

Photo emulsion 

Screen printing ink

Step 1

You will first need to take out the photo emulsion, these come in two bottles, one containing the sensitizer and the other containing the emulsion, you will need to add a tiny amount of water into the sensitizer, and shake the bottle to mix it up, mixing a little water helps loosen the contents from the sides of the bottle. Next, you will need to open up the bottle containing the emulsion and pour in the contents of the sensitizer into the emulsion. You will then need to take a stick and mix both of the contents a bit bit, and then shake the bottle so that it mixes thoroughly.  You need to make sure that the mixture needs to have a consistent green colour therefore this process might take a while. 

Step 2

Once you have acquired the right consistency you can drop a small amount of it on the screen, make sure you pour only a small amount as the screen only requires a fine layer of coating. Next, with the help of the squeegee you will need to even and spread out the mixture to the whole screen, you will need to even out the other side of the screen too, once you have covered the entire screen you can focus on on the side your art is gonna be and make sure that the mixture is absolutely even. Once you are satisfied you can leave to dry up, make sure that there is no light while you keep it for drying, for this you can keep it in front of a fan in a completely dark room.    

Step 3

Once your screen is dried up you will have to work quickly, this is because your work is photosensitive so the longer that the lights are on the after the mixture will set. Make sure the design you want has been printed out on some transparent film. You will need to take your design and place it on the film, tape can be used at the edges to keep it in place. You will need to lay them backward on the screen, so that the design gets transferred, you will then need to place a sheet of glass over it. This is done to push the design down onto the screen and place an extremely bright light over it for around 30 to 40 minutes. 

Step 4

After 40 minutes you can switch off the light and keep it aside, the light hardens the emulsion that is not covered by the design, you can then remove the transparent film, as you do you will realise that the are not exposed directly to the scree, your patter, has turned into a lighter shade of green on the screen. Then take the screen out and and spray it with water, you can take the help of a soft tooth brush too, this is done to remove the hardened area. Make sure to spray water on both sides of the screen. This process must be done gently as you don't have to remove something you need, if you do end up making a mistake you can use dome tape to cover that area so you don't have an incomplete design printed on your t-shirt.

The green area will act as a mask while the lighter or white areas will let the ink through onto the surface you are printing on. 

Step 5

You can now place your t-shirt flat on your workstation and place the screen neatly over it. Then pour a thick layer of ink over it. Secure your screen firmly and with the squeegee pull the ink screws your design, it would be better if someone else was holding the screen while you spread the ink over the design, you have to make sure that the screen does not move while doing this.

Step 6

You will now notice that the print has transferred on your t-shirt, you can then heat set the t-shirt if throwing it into the dryer for a couple of minutes. Printing the design perfectly on your t-shirt might take some practice and may not be perfect from the get go, you can practice them on some old t-shirts first, this is not only limited to t-shirts you can print stuff on your bags, aprons etc. 

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