How to Make Solvent Based Ink for Screen Printing

Written by brandon getty
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How to Make Solvent Based Ink for Screen Printing
Create your own solvent-based printing ink for a custom look. (Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

A solvent is a compound that suspends the pigment of an ink or paint, allowing it to be applied in liquid form. Once the ink or paint is applied, the solvent evaporates, leaving the hardened pigment behind. Some of the more popular choices for solvents are white spirit (paint thinner) and naphtha (lighter fluid), as they are inexpensive and easily found at your local hardware store. When mixed with fabric paint, these solvents create an easily applied, fast-drying ink suitable for use in screen printing.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Oil-based paint (colour of your choice)
  • Solvent
  • Bowl
  • Paint mixing stick
  • Air-tight container

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  1. 1

    Squeeze or pour a small amount of oil-based paint into a bowl. Use only a small amount (several ounces) of paint to begin with.

  2. 2

    Dilute the paint with about half as much solvent.

  3. 3

    Mix the paint and solvent completely using a mixing stick. Blend until the mixture is easily workable, but not thin. It should be fluid enough to be pushed through the silk screen and thick enough to cling to the fabric or poster board.

  4. 4

    Pour the freshly made ink into an airtight container such as a mason jar or empty paint can. Store the ink in a dry, cool area until ready for use.

Tips and warnings

  • If you are happy with the consistency of your mixture after Step 3 and wish to make more ink, add the same amount of paint to the bowl and dilute with half as much solvent. Follow these guidelines each time you wish to make more ink.
  • Never work near open flame or spark-emitting appliances while mixing your paint. Solvents are extremely flammable and should be handled with care.
  • Do not allow children or pets near your work area.

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