How to use green film in silk screen printing

Written by sue stepp
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How to use green film in silk screen printing
Make your own prints using green film. (the softball globe image by Rog999 from Fotolia.com)

Silk screening is the process of using a frame with a piece of silk or silk screen mesh with a stencil to press ink onto something. Silk screening is done on T-shirts, purses, notebooks, cups and many other items. There are several ways to make a silk screen stencil. You can cut out stencils, or paint the stencil directly onto the screen. There is a type of silk screen stencil that has made this process easier and faster for the artist: green film. It is a light-sensitive material that turns your drawing into a stencil.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Drawing that you want to print
  • Sunlight
  • 2 pieces of Plexiglas large enough to hold your green film
  • 2 sheets black felt
  • Small foam paint roller
  • Green film
  • Clear acetate the same size as the green film
  • Pen filled with indelible ink
  • Rubber gloves
  • Bull clips
  • Silk screen
  • Container large enough to hold the green film or sink

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Design or find a drawing that you want to print with the silk screen. Draw the image onto a piece of paper the same size as the green film. This will allow you to get your drawing exactly the way you want it before doing it in ink on the acetate. Acetate can cost from $3 to $8 dollars a sheet, so you want to get it right the first time. Lay the piece of acetate on top of the film with the rough side facing up, and draw your design onto the acetate with the pen. Remember, anything in ink will be printed.

  2. 2

    Go to a dark room that is lit with a dim night light. Do not expose the film to strong light. Place one of the pieces of Plexiglas on a flat surface. Put one of the pieces of black cloth on top of the Plexiglas. Peel the clear protective backing off of the green film. Place the green film on top of the cloth with the shiny side facing up. Next, place the drawing done on acetate on top of the green film with the ink side facing up. Place the last piece of Plexiglas on top of the acetate, and put a bull clip on each side to hold it all together. Place the last piece of black felt over the top.

  3. 3

    Place the image in the sunlight for the time specified in the manufacturer's instructions.

  4. 4

    Bring your work inside, and remove the bull clips. Put on a pair of rubber gloves. Place the green film into a container or sink filled with water. Move the film around in the water, and brush off any exposed film with your fingers. Remove any excess water with paper towels. Expose the film to the sun for about 10 minutes. Cover it with the black felt, and bring it back inside. Allow it to sit undisturbed overnight in a dark room.

  5. 5

    Attach the green film to the flat side of the silk screen with masking tape, and begin printing. There is only one flat side on the screen, so it will be easy to tell where to put the film. It is the side that is facing the board on the silk screen when you are printing.

Tips and warnings

  • If you want to put a shape on the silk screen instead of an image, cut out the shape from black construction paper and tape it to the acetate. The black shape will serve as the drawing for your design.
  • Always wear gloves when working with art supplies. Many art supplies are not toxic, but they can cause other health problems.

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