Kate invited me over for a day of screen printing, and if I do say so, it was quite a successful day and not nearly as intimidating as I had imaged. I'm going to write this as if I'm an expert, but I am absolutely not. If you're serious about wanting to try this, Kate recommends "Printing by Hand" by Lena Corwin.
We first collected all of the necessary materials, which included:
- Paper, pencil, wax paper, and cutting materials to create a stencil
- Screens, which Kate had made using cheap, unfinished Ikea picture frames and screen fabric
- Textile paints
- A screen printing squeegee
- Fabric on which to print
- A drying rack
Once all of the materials were compiled, it was time to decide what it was that we wanted to print. I decided on the letter "P" in honor of Michael's last name, which I sketched out based on a western-inspired font that I found here. Kate had already created a vine design to mimic the invitations that she'll be using in her upcoming wedding. The next steps were determined by the method we would each be using to actually get our designs onto our fabrics.
There are 4 methods of screen printing:
1. The Paper Stencil Method
2. The Screen Filler Method
3. The Drawing Fluid-Screen Filler Method
4. The Photographic Emulsion Method
You can find more information on each of these methods here.
Kate used the drawing fluid-screen filler method in which you first paint your design directly onto your screen using drawing fluid. You then cover your entire screen with screen filler, which essentially clogs the fabric everywhere except where you've painted the drawing fluid, creating a stencil-of-sorts directly out of your screen.
I used the paper stencil method, which is pretty much what it sounds like it is. You make a stencil out of paper (I used wax paper), which is then placed between the screen and the fabric.
So, with our respective methods in tow, we each screen printed our fabrics. We placed our fabric under our screens. We began by gently spreading (i.e. "flooding") the paint over the entire surface of the screen, which is lifted up so as not to touch the fabric. We held our flooded screens in place on our fabric (with the help of the other) and firmly spread the paint with the squeegee, making several passes.
We gently lifted the screen away from the fabric, and ta-da! Screen printed fabric!
Once you get it all set up, you can do as many as you like in pretty quick succession. Obviously, one of the biggest advantages of screen printing is that you're able to replicate the same design dozens/hundreds (even thousands!) of times over.
Kate opted to do a second color, which was as easy as letting the first color dry and repeating the steps above.
If done promptly, clean-up is as simple as rinsing the screens and squeegee with water.
In the end, Kate printed several fabric pieces for pillow covers, and I made a couple of monograms, which I may frame at some point.