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Intro to Screen Printing

Lesson 6 of 13

Degrease your screen

Erin Dollar

Intro to Screen Printing

Erin Dollar

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Lesson Info

6. Degrease your screen


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Introduction Duration:04:27
2 Printing Process in Action Duration:04:28
5 Set up your darkroom Duration:05:20
6 Degrease your screen Duration:07:26
8 Expose the Screen Duration:09:13
9 Wash out the Screen Duration:06:55
10 Prepare for Printing Duration:13:44
11 Time to Screen Print Duration:15:19
12 Clean-Up & Screen Storage Duration:10:17

Lesson Info

Degrease your screen

So let's go ahead and dive into the dark room processes, and I'll show you how this part works. So when you get a silk screen, generally when you purchase them, they come uncoated, completely blank like this. There's no imagery at all on this so far. It's completely blank. It's just the mesh that's suspended or glued onto this frame. We're using wooden frames today. And, essentially, they come in a couple of different colors. You might notice that our mesh, well it's hard to tell because we're in the dark room lighting, which is already yellow, but the mesh that we're using on these is yellow. You'll also see white mesh or clear mesh that is a little bit less colorful, and it just means the mesh is a lower weave or a lower, almost, thread count. The higher weaves, like a 230 or 250, like what we're using today, tend to be yellow or sometimes orange, and those are good for capturing more detail. Just to give you a little bit of a sense of the materials that we're using. So when you purc...

hase them, there's no artwork on them, and we wanna go ahead and clean them with a degreasing agent. I bought this at Eco-Friendly Degreaser, it's on the materials list, and we're gonna go ahead and just spray a little bit of this over both sides of the screen. And the reason that we do this is that, when you first receive a screen, or you're first processing a screen, you don't know how many kind of greasy fingers may have touched the surface, or, kind of, how tainted it is from the start. So we wanna start with a really perfectly clean screen, so that we make sure that none of that grease that could already be on there would affect the quality of our print. So you can see we've rigged up a couple of buckets, but this could really easily be achievable in a large sink. If your kitchen has a very large wash basin and you're using a small screen, you might be able to do it in a kitchen sink. I tend to do this, when I print from home, I tend to do this in my bathtub with a shower head that detaches, so that works too. We've got a garden hose rigged up here, but, mostly, you just want to find a running water source that you'll be able to spray directly onto that screen. I'm just gonna go ahead and, actually, before we do that, let's go ahead and give it a little scrub. This just little red scrubby is just gonna help us aid that degreasing process. (high pitched scraping) Let's go ahead and give that a flip. (high pitched scraping) Okay, I'm gonna move this extra screen out of the way. All right. Let's go ahead and wash that degreaser out. (water spraying) You're gonna see it foaming up a little bit, and that's okay, we wanna see that. That just means that it's getting everything nice and clean. We'll go ahead and rinse the other side as well. (water spraying) You also wanna make sure that you're rinsing off the edges of the frame as well. It's totally okay to get that degreaser on the wood or on the aluminum because you just want this to be as clean as possible. The least grease, the better. Go ahead and use a little bit less pressure there. (water spraying) Okay, so that's looking nice and clean. We're still seeing a little bit of bubbles, so we're gonna keep rinsing until we're not seeing the bubbles come up from the degreaser anymore. We want it to be nice and clean. (water spraying) Okay. Now, Erin, I know that you mentioned that this could be done in a sink. Mhm. Could this also be done in a tub or a shower? Yes, absolutely, and that's actually where I'd prefer to do this process. Okay. This is, as you can see from our blowback onto the (laughs) mirror here, this is actually probably best done in a bathroom. If you have an area in your garage that you have a utility sink, that's another thing to consider. I like to use either a bathtub or a shower, where you can get that kind of shower head that pulls off of the wall, spray that down, and then we're just gonna set this somewhere to dry. So, absolutely, lots of different options. Are there any issues with the chemicals that you wash off being in the sink or in the tub? Are there any cautions that need to be -- For the degreaser, no. Degreaser is just a cleaning agent. It's almost the same as a home cleaner. The ones that we have purchased are all really eco-friendly, and you don't have to worry about those going down the sink at all. Perfect, thanks. Exactly. So when you're shopping around, if you're not using our materials list from the class, where I've provided a lot of great eco-friendly options, you're gonna wanna make sure, if that's important to you, to make sure that you're using an eco-friendly option. Look for that information on the label, or look for resources, guides about where to find more eco-friendly materials because some of these silk screen processes, especially as you get more advanced, and start working with non-water based inks are kind of plastic based, they don't tend to be as eco-friendly. So if that is important to you, then you should absolutely look for that on a label, and make sure that you're understanding the chemical processes that you're getting involved in. But everything on our list, super, super eco-friendly. Perfect for the home DIY with silkscreen projects. So generally you would set this somewhere to dry. You would put this maybe out in the sun, on your deck, somewhere where it's not gonna get too dusty. Maybe in the sun to aid the drying process. You could also keep it here in your dark room with a fan on it, or you can just let it sit overnight. Generally, you need to wait until this is completely dry before we're gonna move on to the next step. You don't wanna bring a wet screen, and try to coat that with emulsion because it's just not gonna set on the surface correctly, and you're gonna have problems during the exposure process. Luckily, we have another screen ready to go. Here's our nice dry, degreased screen that we created earlier. We wanted to make sure that this process was as seamless as possible for you guys, so we have another screen that we've already prepped off-camera. So this still doesn't have any artwork on it, but it's nice, and clean, and degreased, and ready to coat with emulsion.

Class Description

Screen printing is a popular, fun and creative way to apply your designs to new materials. The idea of taking on a creative outlet can be daunting for illustrators, artists and creative business owners but with Introduction to Screen Printing, Erin Dollar will walk you through the entire creative process with a DIY workflow, making it accessible and approachable for anyone.

Erin Dollar is the talented textile designer and printmaker behind Cotton & Flax. Join her for this beginning class on the art of screen printing, and you’ll learn:

  • How to create a bold design and transparency that will translate well to printing
  • What materials and tools are best for beginners
  • How to work with photosensitive materials and create a dark room in your space
  • Best practices to prepare your screens for printing on paper

Erin has applied her art to a wide variety of patterns and mediums, blending fine art and fine craft to produce fresh and vibrant designs. Learn proper printing techniques and take advantage of her streamlined process for screen printing. Empower yourself with this new skill set and bring this versatile and dynamic craft to your creative space!  



Wow, that was a great course. Erin is clear, engaging and encouraging. I would loooove to see a follow up course with her that explores some of the more advanced silk screen printing techniques that she mentions in the last segment. Great job!

Marsha Law

Erin is such an outstanding instructor. She's just so confident with her topic and with her ability to communicate. This class helped me realize that I'm not ready yet to start screen printing, which in my opinion is just as important as recognizing when you are ready to try something.


Recently got my Creative Pass and I decided to explore the Creativelive library out of my usual fields of interest. Saw the title of the course and I said to myself - what is this? I literally had no idea about Screen Printing and that was actually the main reason I took the class. In just two hours I went from not having a clue to understanding the process and imagining me doing it :)) I'm not sure it will ever happen but I really enjoyed the class. Loved the style of teaching, very calm and confident, as well as the moderator's and students' questions which were filling up the gaps.