How to Make a Silkscreen Template

Written by k. d. wicks
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How to Make a Silkscreen Template
A robot silhouette was silk-screened in red on a yellow T-shirt. (Will Scullen:Flikr.com)

There are three main methods for making an image template for silk screening, be it on fabric or another medium: paper stencil, screen-filler negative and screen-filler positive. The cheapest and simplest way is to use a paper stencil, which can be as simple or complex as your skills allow. You won't need to buy special emulsion kits, glues or fillers.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Design
  • Craft knife
  • Writing utensil
  • Vellum
  • Cutting board or mat

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Create the design. Draw a picture yourself, copy a photograph, or print an image from the computer. Simple is best for beginners; avoid small details or tight curves.

  2. 2

    Trace the design. Place the vellum on top of your picture and trace the portions you want to print. Stick to images that translate well in black and white first. Trace the black portion of the image for printing and the white space will be the colour of the shirt.

  3. 3

    Cut out the design. Lay the vellum on top of a cutting board or mat to protect your work surface. Carefully cut out the traced image using a craft knife. Any stray cuts or rough edges will show up in your finished work.

  4. 4

    Wipe off the vellum after each use and store in a safe place. The vellum can be bent and creased or accumulate dust if left out in the open, so keep it in a drawer, container, or folder where it will not be abused.

Tips and warnings

  • Freezer or contact paper can be used as templates for stencilling on fabric if you do not want to go through the entire silk-screening process. Make a template using the same method on the non-wax or non-sticky side of the paper and iron the stencil directly to the fabric for painting. These stencils are generally one-time use only.

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