Screen printing is a method of applying designs to paper and fabric. This process requires a frame, thin fabric to act as a print screen, inks and emulsion. Designs painted or applied to a print screen can be repeatedly printed onto different surfaces. Screen printing is used to decorate clothing, stationery and home goods.
You can cut a piece of foam core to form a screen-printing frame if you do not have an actual frame available. This homemade frame can be any size as long as the squeegee can fit inside it. Pull the screen-printing fabric tightly over the foam frame and staple it in place on the other side. Put masking tape over the open window area on the stapled side of the frame. This will keep ink from escaping into the cracks.
Have the kids draw their designs on adhesive contact paper instead of painting them onto the screen-printing fabric. This allows more leeway for mistakes. Use a craft knife to carefully cut their finished designs out of the contact paper. You will be using the contact paper with the designs cut away. Peel off the back and adhere the piece onto the smooth side of the frame. Be sure it is centred in the window area and smooth out any bubbles.
You can make a screen-printing activity an educational project that uses abstract shapes and multiple colours. Have the children cut out three to five shapes from construction paper, arrange them on the medium that will receive the print, place the frame on top and add ink. Repeat this process three more times, using new stencils and different coloured inks each time. Allow the ink to dry after each application before proceeding to the next step. The final product will be highly abstracted with overlapping shapes and colours. This activity teaches kids about manipulating positive and negative space as well as the ways in which colours interact.
Have children make several screen-printing motifs on the same piece of paper. These motifs may be in different shapes and colours. Advise the children to keep screen printing until the paper has been filled with multiple designs. Allow the paper to dry. Then use the paper as its own creative medium. Encourage the children to cut their papers up for collages, fold them into origami shapes or draw other pictures on them.