Make Your Own Silk Screen Printing Kit

Written by mercedes valladares
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Make Your Own Silk Screen Printing Kit
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Silk screen printing kits are useful for home crafters, and are handy for camping trips or other recreational outings in which craft time is a featured activity. Remember to include all of the essential components, such as the silk screen frames and mesh. Crafters will save time if you transfer artwork images to the mesh beforehand. This also enables crafters to focus on choosing complementary colours and learning about the silk screen application process.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pre-made wooden frames
  • Silk screen mesh
  • Clear graph ruler
  • Fabric scissors
  • Staple gun
  • Pencil
  • Artwork motifs
  • Waterproof tape
  • Squeegees
  • Silk screen paint
  • Blank T-shirt
  • Brushes
  • Thin-tipped brushes (optional)
  • Mixing craft sticks
  • Silk screen fillers
  • Heavy-duty bag

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  1. 1

    Include three different sizes of pre-made wooden frames in your kit. For instance, include 4-by-6-inch, 5-by-7-inch and 8-by-10-inch frames. This will allow the kit's user to make different-sized artwork.

  2. 2

    Measure the width of the frame's wood with a clear graph ruler if the silk screen mesh is not already attached. Add that measurement to the inner dimension of the frame to determine the size of the silk screen mesh needed. For instance, the "8-by-10-inch" measurement of a wooden frame generally refers to the size of the finished artwork. If the frame itself is made of 2-inch-wide wood, then you would cut the silk screen mesh to measure 10 inches by 12 inches.

  3. 3

    Cut the silk screen mesh for your wooden frames with your fabric scissors.

  4. 4

    Staple the silk screen mesh on top of the wooden frame with your staple gun. Stretch the fabric slightly to ensure it is taut before stapling. Sagging fabric will cause the paint to smudge and not transfer correctly onto your project fabric.

  5. 5

    Flip the silk screen frame over so the mesh fabric is directly on your work surface. Draw your motifs freehand directly onto the silk screen mesh with a light pencil. Do not apply excessive pressure to avoid puncturing a hole into the mesh. As an alternative, trace pre-made images. Place your artwork on your work surface and position your mesh fabric directly on top of it. Trace around the image to transfer it onto the mesh. Do not reverse your image.

  6. 6

    Place waterproof tape carefully around the top of the frame as well as the inside parameters of the frame, but do not place tape over your pencil drawing.

  7. 7

    Repeat steps 2 through 6 for each different wooden frame in your kit.

  8. 8

    Include application tools in your kit, such as squeegees of different widths to fit your frames. Include blank T-shirts, brushes for the silk screen paint filler, thin-tipped brushes for fine lines and mixing craft sticks.

  9. 9

    Brush silk screen filler over the negative space of your artwork motif -- which is the area you do not want transferred onto your project fabric -- if you will be using the kit within a short period of time. Flip the silk screen artwork up prior to brushing the filler. The screen will appear reversed and facing you. Coat all mesh holes evenly with the filler. Allow a minimum of 24 hours to dry. Read your brand's instructions for the recommended time. Do not apply the filler if you are keeping the silk screen frame for a long period of time. As the filler continues to dry over time, it begins to crack and loosen, exposing the mesh fabric.

  10. 10

    Add small bottles of silk screen paint to your kit for your artwork. Select a heavy-duty bag with built-in compartments to hold your paints and fillers in an upright position as well as your silkscreen frames and application tools.

Tips and warnings

  • Silk screen mesh is sold by the yard at arts and crafts stores.
  • To transfer images from a prepared silk screen, pour silk screen paint across one end of the frame, referred to as an inkwell. Dip the squeegee into the inkwell and drag the paint across the image. This process is referred to as "flooding the screen." The image is transferred as originally drawn.
  • Waterproof tape is sold in a variety of wide widths for silk screening in order to cover the frame as well as a portion of the mesh. This special tape prevents the silk screen paint from seeping into the wood. According to "Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts," "If ink, which is water-based, gets onto the wood frame, it will warp, making printing difficult."
  • If you are planning to travel with your kit, apply silk screen filler several days prior to use.

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