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Intro to Screen Printing

Lesson 8 of 13

Expose the Screen


Intro to Screen Printing

Lesson 8 of 13

Expose the Screen


Lesson Info

Expose the Screen

The next thing that we're gonna do is burn our screen. This part is really fun 'cause we start to see our designs come to life. Oh boy. So this is one of those workarounds that I was talking about. If you don't have a darkroom safe environment to keep your screens in long-term. Once they're dry you can put them into a garbage bag like this that's completely opaque and that will help protect it from exposure to the light. So we've actually precoated and dried some screens and we've hidden them down here in this protective material so they'll be ready to go ahead and burn. The thing you have to remember is the screen that you've coated with emulsion needs to be 100% dry before you start to do the UV light on it to burn the image into the screen. So to do that process... we go ahead and open up our bag here (laughs) ta-dah this one's all dry. Okay and we're gonna go ahead and lay this there temporarily. I'll bring over the other materials that we're gonna need. Thanks Rob. So here's that ...

transparency that we were looking at before back in the studio. If you wouldn't mind holding that piece of glass for me for a moment. This is the transparency that we've created with our original art. This is the art that features that awesome there's a creator in all of us. Something that I heard being said or hear around creative live. I've added some interesting decorative elements around the edge. This is the transparency that we had made. We're gonna go ahead and lay this down on the When we place it down to be ready to be exposed we wanna have the printing side. The completely flat side facing up towards the lamp and we're gonna place the transparency. We're gonna flip it so that if there's any words or text we want it to be looking like it's not right reading at this point and place it down on the surface of the screen. And the reason that we do it backwards like this is that then when you flip it around you can see the outside or the inside of the screen where you're gonna be putting the ink and pulling the squeegee it looks right reading. Hopefully you guys can see that. So the first thing that we wanna do is take a piece of foam. This is just lightweight foam I think I got this at a boxing or moving supply store. And you can go ahead and buy a piece that's about the same size of the interior of your screen. When I say interior I mean these dimensions. So you want this piece of foam. I think this is two inches wide to fit inside the frame of your screen. And I've cut it a little big so that it just kinda holds itself in there, nice and snug. And the reason that we have this is that when we expose the screen we're gonna flip it around but there's this area the sort of well. The crevice of the screen that light can kind of get into and bounce around on the table and that's gonna make it so that the image isn't as crisp as we want. So by putting this foam here we're actually dampening that affect and we're making it so that we're gonna get the flattest most even exposure. So we have this on a table here. So without that Erin is there a possibility that when you turn on the UV light it could bounce off the surface? Right essentially the light will go through the screen onto the table. We have a nice black table here which will help to mitigate some of that effect. But if you had a wooden table or a white table that you were shooting on, that light would go through the screen and bounce back up and that could actually blur the image a little bit. So if you're seeing this as you're burning your screen that your images are looking a little blurry or aren't looking quite right that could be part of the problem. The light is kinda bouncing through the screen and back up rather than coming from one direction only. We really wanna position this lamp so it's just centered right over the surface of the screen. We'll probably need to scoot that over a little bit more. And it needs to be about 12 to 15 inches from the surface of the screen to the light bulb. So we wanna keep those dimensions in mind. If you have a much larger screen. This is a perfect setup for the size screen we have here. If you were shooting a much larger screen you might need to get two light bulbs so if this screen was twice as big we could either suspend a bulb above the center of that or we could get a second light bulb and shoot it from over here as well at the same time. But generally for screens this size this setup should be perfect. And again if we didn't have the task lamp that had the nice extending arm we could suspend something from the ceiling or we could add a bracket or a shelf here and suspend it from there as a clamp light. And Erin a question from one of the chat rooms. Is there anything you can substitute for a UV light? No generally for this photographic process if you're going to do it in a darkroom setting this is the way to do it. You can definitely try almost sunprint style to do this out in the sun but the results are gonna be so mixed because you're not going to be able to control how long the exposure is as easily. You're gonna have some exposure that you're not gonna want between rooms if your moving kinda from your darkroom setup to going out into the sun. Technically it's probably possible. Would not suggest it though. This is going to be a lot easier and a lot more effective especially for beginners. Yeah I've definitely seen people try it and I wouldn't dare. (laughing) Okay so Let me just mention too that this beautiful image that Erin is using that says there's a creator in all of us. That's part of our bonus materials so you're gonna have access to that and you'll be able to make a transparency to create a screen just like Erin's doing. Yeah I wanted to give you guys a way to just jump right in. You don't have to be deliberating about what type of imagery you wanna use. I'm gonna hook you guys up with something that I know is gonna print really well even at a beginner level. And will help you just get started and then as you learn more about the process you can start to use your own imagery and really make it your own. So I hope that this is helpful. So now that we have the transparency laid down and you'll remember that the text is wrong reading right now and it's the same for any image that you're gonna use. You wanna go ahead and flip it around so it's not quite the way you wanted it to look. It's gonna be reversed and then you set that down on the surface. I like to use a piece of glass or plexiglass to hold it down and keep it flush with the surface of the screen. You can also, if your real budget DIY. That's totally awesome. Grab a few pieces of scotch tape and just tape it to the surface. It's not gonna be quite as smooth of a surface. It's not gonna be held down with the same pressure as if we were using this glass but it's totally doable and I've seen it work even in beginner situations. The important thing with the screen or the glass that we're gonna put on our screen (blows) is that it's totally clean and free of scratches. This is pretty good but there's a little something there. (blowing) Okay I think that's gonna work just fine. So we're gonna set that right on top. And you can see that that's just pressed our imagery right down so it's flush with the surface of the screen. Alright And if you had any screens that were still drying in your darkroom at this time you would wanna put them away in a different area because we're gonna turn on our UV light which is actually going to expose any photo chemicals that are around the area that we're working in. We're not too worried about this 'cause we've just got the one screen going but if you have been storing your screens for other projects you'd wanna tuck them away if they were dry into that plastic bag, into the dark trash bag or into another room that was completely light-tight. We've got the setup, this is suspended about... 12ish inches and we've got our UV light plugged in. I think we're good to go. So you would set a timer for nine minutes. I don't have a timer on me but we'll start our engines and... Go. So what's happening during this process is that the UV light is hardening the photochemical emulsion in the areas that aren't covered up by our imagery. And in the areas that are protected by our drawing or by the opaque drawing that we've created here. That's not gonna harden as well and so when we wash it out. When we develop the screen those areas are gonna fall away and leave an area that doesn't have any coating on it that the ink will be able to be pushed through to make a print. So we'll be taking about nine minutes now.

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.


Great beginner course. Helpful terminology. Hope Erin provides a follow up for more complex printing (textiles please). Many thanks.

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