Designing graphics, patterns or prints and transferring them onto fabric or garments is a rewarding experience for every artist. Using Speedball Screen Printing tools or kits allows the artist to practice the screen printing method as well as make a variety of transfers with the same mesh screen frame. Preparing the work area and tools, applying screen filler, as well as mixing screen printing inks to a smooth consistency facilitates the graphic transfer process. Taking proper care of the Speedball tools allows the screen printing inks to pass effortlessly through the mesh and onto the fabric.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Speedball screen print mesh screen
- Mild dish detergent or soap
- Soft scrub brush
- Waterproof tape
- Water resistant masking tape
- Speedball screen print filler
- Soft-lead pencil
- Narrow paintbrush applicator
- Speedball screen printing ink
- Mixing stick
- Protective gloves and mask
- Retarder base (optional)
- Acrylic or fabric ink
- Old newspapers
- Speedball squeegee
Wash the screen print mesh screen with mild dish detergent or soap by scrubbing both sides of the screen with a soft scrub brush. Debris or dust often lodges into the mesh, which is not visible, preventing the screen printing ink from passing successfully through the screen. Let the screen dry thoroughly.
Attach a 2-inch wide screen-printing waterproof tape or water-resistant masking tape around the inside base of the Speedball screen printing frame. Overlap a portion of the tape over the wooden frame and another portion onto the frame. This extends the life of the frame by preventing ink from seeping into the wood and warping the frame.
Position the frame on your work table with the mesh side facing you and the wooden frame on the table. This is the back side of the frame. The stretch mesh fabric stapled onto the frame is visible as well as any nailed or mitred frame corners. Tape around the frame as well as over the staples or nail heads. This process protects the frame and prevents any ink from seeping into the wood through the stapled or nailed areas. Another alternative, if you are working with solvent-based inks, is to use a seal gummed water-soluble tape coated with polyurethane.
Transfer the graphic onto the mesh fabric. For instance, if you are using Speedball's screen print filler, lightly draw the design directly onto the mesh screen with a soft-lead pencil. Make sure you do not press hard onto the mesh to avoid puncturing or piercing the mesh fabric. If you cannot draw free hand, place a paper drawing underneath the frame and trace it directly onto the mesh fabric. Brush screen print filler on the areas you do not want ink to pass through with a narrow paintbrush applicator. This is referred to as the negative area of the screen. Allow the filler to dry a minimum of 24 hours.
Mix the Speedball screen printing ink with a mixing stick until the ink is a smooth consistency. Work in a well-ventilated area wearing protective gloves and mask. If you have purchased the Speedball Fabric Screen Printing Kit, mixing sticks are generally included. Add a small amount of water to dilute thick water-based inks. Mix 5 per cent retarder base to acrylic or fabric inks to slow down the ink's drying time.
Cover the work area with old newspapers. Place newspaper inside of the garment or fabric layers to avoid ink seeping onto unwanted areas.
Lift the bottom end of the screen print frame on a slight angle. Pour the mixed ink across the top of the screen print frame referred to as the ink well.
Dip the Speedball squeegee into the ink well. Drag the ink across the mesh screen from top to bottom on a piece of fabric scrap. Dragging the ink is referred to as flooding the screen. Another alternative is to use Speedball's rounded-edge squeegee. This screen printing tool pushes more ink through the mesh screen.
Pass the squeegee two to three times from top to bottom to ensure the ink has transferred the graphic onto the fabric.
Wash out the screen immediately after use by repeating Step 1. Let the screen dry thoroughly before using for your next screen print project.
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- "Printing By Hand: A Modern Guide to Printing with Handmade, Stamps, Stencils, and Silk Screens"; Lena Corwin and Thayer Allyson Gowdy; 2008
- "The Printmaking Bible: The Complete Guide to Materials and Techniques"; Ann d'Arcy Hughes and Hebe Vernon-Morris; 2008
- "Simple Screenprinting: Basic Techniques & Creative Projects"; Annie Stromquist; 2005