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Intro to Screen Printing

Lesson 11 of 13

Time to Screen Print


Intro to Screen Printing

Lesson 11 of 13

Time to Screen Print


Lesson Info

Time to Screen Print

So now you have a general idea of where this is gonna land on the press. We're gonna go ahead and print on the white paper first. So essentially we wanna create registration marks, and the way that we're gonna do this, this acetate should be a little bit bigger, because this is gonna be tricky with it being so small. Maybe I'll print on the brown first. Okay. Thank you. Sure. So essentially we wanna basically tape down this acetate 'cause this is where we know it's going to land. (tape pulling) Use a little bit of our screen tape here, just to secure that in place. Just for the viewers at home, that might not be familiar with the term, when you say registration-- that's basically. Right. Where the printing will appear on the page. Exactly, exactly. Okay. So we wanna make sure that we're laying our paper down in the exact spot that's going to be receiving the ink when we pull our press. So we wanna make sure that we create that registration mark because we're locked ...

in with these hinges. The screen's not goin' anywhere. This is stuck in this position, up or down are our only options. So we wanna make sure that we know exactly where to place our paper so that we're getting that image centered every single time. So we've taped down the acetate, and now we're gonna kind of slide the paper underneath to figure out how we want the paper to be registered. So this is not, I'm gonna take up the full surface of the paper, but I kind of like the way that, that's looking. The image isn't perfectly geometric, so it's gonna look a little irregular anyway. But I kind of like the way that's looking. We've got an equal distance between the top and the bottom there. I think that looks pretty good. So I'm gonna go ahead and smooth that paper down. (paper pulling) Ooh, that's pretty sticky. Do you wanna hold that for me? Sure. Thank you. And if we have a Sharpie down below you-- Yes. Just hand that to me, that would be great. Here we go. Perfect. And so like I did this morning, earlier today, for the other print that we pulled at the beginning of this segment, I basically make these little registration marks, that are gonna show us exactly where to lay our paper. So I'm gonna do the same thing here. Just going around all four corners. And if you wanna be really fastidious, you can do the whole page, but that's probably not necessary. We'll do it on two sides, just so you can get a sense. Alright. So there are our registration marks. And if you have a lot of registration marks that are building up on the surface, you can use, I think acetone removes Sharpie from surfaces-- Okay. Like this. So can see what kind of cleaning material you can use to remove this Sharpie, so you can kind of start from scratch. I'm gonna put a little star next to the ones that we're gonna be doing today, so I remember to lay it there, and not down here, and not up there, and not over there (laughs). Alright, so I'm gonna go ahead and grab a fresh piece of paper. Alright. Perfect. So go ahead and get that right down on those registration marks there. This is pretty tacky, so this may stick. That's okay. So now you can kind of see the image of that paper underneath. There's white paper to see white on white. We are kind of working at an advantage here because we're using this craft paper, and so it's a little bit easier when I'm looking through the screen from above, to see that delineation between the paper and the press. But if you're working with white paper, you just wanna make sure that you're working with that acetate, and making sure that it looks like it's gonna land in just the right spot. So this is looking good to me. I think we're pretty much ready to print. This is exciting. The moment-- I love it! We've been waiting for. So we're gonna go ahead and get started printing. I'm going to put some ink on the press. The first thing we wanna do is think about where we're gonna lay out our prints-- as they're drying. Okay. Make a little bit of space on the table over here. But you're gonna wanna think about where's a nice horizontal surface that you can lay things out to dry where nobody's gonna get into them or touch them while they're still wet, or blow away, because there's a door open or something like that. So just being mindful that we're just kind of keeping these things out to dry. It's gonna take, you know, depending on the conditions where you're living, if it's warmer, they'll dry a little quicker. If it's dry, they'll dry a little quicker, but if you're in a cool wet climate, it might take a little longer for those to set. Alright. I love that color. I know we've got a nice-- rich green. It's a beautiful. Shamrock green color. I really love this green. It's so nice. Emerald City. I don't know what the actual name is. Just called 316-- green. Green (laughs). It's not like nail polish where they get creative name. That's too bad. Missed opportunity. (laughter) Versatex, come on (laughs)? I really actually like Versatex inks. I like that they have this nice small size of water-based inks, and this is one of the things that I include in the materials listed. I recommend this brand, especially for beginners, because it's kind of a low buy. These are pretty affordable, and they come in a lot of beautiful rainbow colors and I think that it can be nice to not have to buy a big gallon bucket of something if we're not sure what colors we're gonna prefer to print in. Allows for more experimentation. So you see I've got a lot of the ink, kind of up at the top here. And we're gonna have some space down at the bottom for a well of ink as well. And basically what we're gonna do is we're always gonna be pulling ink from up at the top there, into our image area, and it's gonna kind of rest further down. So we don't wanna pull the squeegee and stop half way. We always wanna go all the way down, or all the way back up. Some people like to push the squeegee, rather than pull it. For today, I'm just gonna be pulling it forward. Both things can work to flood the screen. Essentially, you're just taking the sharp edge here and using that with some medium pressure, not super-hard pressure, really pull that ink down into the image area that we've created that stencil of. Now I know there are probably some viewers at home that are wondering, how do we know how much ink to put on the screen? Right, right-- and it really depends on-- 'Cause you obviously. You eyeballed it, and kind of put out. Is there any sort of rule of thumb? It depends generally on how many prints you're planning to pull. If you're doing quite a few, you would wanna put on a little more ink. You could always be a little more conservative, and hold some back and add more as you go. That's no problem. The thing you wanna make sure that you do, is apply ink across the whole length of the screen, where you have image area. So if my image extended a little further, I would wanna have it ink over here. If my image extended further this way, I'd wanna have some more ink over here. As it happens, we're just going right to the edge of where our imagery is. So, let's see, hopefully (laughs). Alright, so we're gonna go ahead and just grab kind of in the middle of that puddle of ink. And at this point, you're lifting the screen up. Yeah, I'm holding the screen off the press. Even if we did it from down here, it would be okay since we're off contact, but I like to hold it up here, and just pull. (screeching) Oh! Look at that. I love it. Sneak preview. This is exciting. So essentially with that first pull, I flooded the ink into the screen. And after we do that the first time, we wanna be mindful of always remembering to flood the screen with ink after we've pulled a print. And the reason that we do that is this water-based ink will tend to dry in the screen, if we wait too long between images, and when we do that, that can actually really result in some bad print qualities. We wanna just go ahead and flood the screen, place it down on the surface, and with medium pressure, pull your print. Let's see how that looks. Amazing! So nice. I love it. Let's go ahead and flood the screen now. (knocking) I just tapped off some of the excess ink. Do you want hold-- Yeah would you-- mind holding my squeegee? Sure. Thank you. Alright I think this is pretty tacky. Peel that off. Tah dah! It's fantastic. It's nice and crisp. Yeah, that's really great. I love the way the green looks on the craft paper too. This is what's so fun about printmaking, is there's so many ways that you can customize it and make it your own. We don't have registration marks set up for the white paper, but I'm just gonna eye-ball it so we can see how different it looks on the white. It's about the same. Let's go ahead and put that here. Now we're just guesstimating on this one, because we didn't register for the white paper. But I wanna show you what it looks like on a different surface. (scraping) (screeching) Now since I've already flooded it before I put it down, I was able to just pull my next print. Ooh, that looks cool. I think we'll pull one more after this. So I went ahead and flooded it again, before I'm putting it up so I can retrieve my print. Thank you Robert. That looks great against the white. Nice right. I love it. Yeah, I'm excited about how these are turning out. And I love that this is a unique thing that's just really perfect for CreativeLive too. This is so suitable for this audience. I think that you guys probably resonate with that phrase as much as I do. I think that's a really, a really nice motivational message that you can have up above your desk, or in your workspace. Let's pull one more. Absolutely We'll do one more of these craft paper prints. And if you're mindful of keeping your screen flooded and you don't have any problems printing, you can keep doing this for as long as you have the stamina. I've pulled editions of 50 to a hundred prints, and it takes quite a while, but my goodness, you really are only limited by how much time you have and how many prints you wanna create. (screeching) Okay, nice. That looks good too. Okay we're gonna flood that screen again. (screeching) (knocking) Remind us one more time, why we're flooding the screen. Right. So we flood the screen with ink again, partially because we're using water-based ink, and we're opting to use the less chemical filled ink. Okay. Water-based ink, especially in dry or warmer environments will start to dry almost immediately. So if the screen is empty of ink, if there's no ink left in our image area, whatever little residue is still in there, is essentially going to start to dry very quickly and that will start to plug up some of the holes in the mesh, and make it hard to pull a perfect print. Okay. So by flooding the ink, back into the screen, I've already done it, so I'm not gonna do it again, by flooding that ink again, you're basically filling it with that wet ink, keeping it ready to print and nice and kind of moist so that it's not gonna be starting to dry out right away. And you wanna move pretty quickly through this whole process, especially because we're opting to use water-based ink. Here's another print. Yay! Oh, I don't wanna stop printing! This is the part I love! (laughter) Let's make one more. We're gonna have four people who are really excited to see us after class. (laughter) The thing that's so fun about these and with the screen printing process is this amazing consistency that you get. The image is absolutely the same every single time. Right, and that comes with skill and experience-- too. Sure. I don't want you guys to feel discouraged here. Since we've got a lot of ink at the bottom, I'll show you how to push back. (screeching). That's another way to flood your screen. I wouldn't necessarily encourage you, especially when you're starting out to push back for your actual printing process. It's a little bit easier and you have a little bit more control and you can pull it towards you. So that's nice and flat. That'll look good there. Is it possible to push too much ink through the screen? It is and I wanna talk a little bit troubleshooting and what some-- common printing problems are. Perfect. Luckily we haven't really encountered any of them today. And you can see that because we're using a really high mesh count, you can see this. Even the tiniest little detail in the trademark here is coming through-- the tiny letters. The tiny letters. And that's really-- Totally legible. Really different to achieve if you're starting as a beginner. The bigger the detail, the easier it's gonna be to achieve when you are first starting out. So thinking about that when we're creating our imagery, and then not getting discouraged if we see some of the common problems that crop up when we're printing. I'll outline a few of those as we start to do our clean-up. Could we have some of that newsprint please? Sure. So some of the common problems that I will see sometimes when I'm printing is that you're gonna get an uneven image. Sometimes if you don't have enough ink on your screen it will print very light in some areas, or even not at all, or really heavy in other areas and kind of start to blob out like there's just too much ink, and it's spilling out over the sides. And that's partially to do with uneven pressure as you're pulling your prints, and part of that can be achieved by just making sure that you're putting firm even pressure over the full surface. You maybe holding your squeegee at an incorrect angle. If you're too flat, or you're too straight up and down. You wanna be kind of split the different, not quite a 45 degree angle, but not quite 90 either. We're really kind of aiming for at least 65, 70 degrees here. And making sure we have that firm even pressure. It helps especially when you're starting to use both hands so that you're applying even pressure there. And making sure that you have enough ink throughout the whole area here. If it's starting to look a little thin, maybe use your squeegee, push it a little bit more over in that direction, get it a little more even. Oh, I wanna print one more. Should we print one more? Let's print one more (laughs). Let's print one more. You wanna do it on white again? This is really just such a fun process because I think you can see that the payoff can be really amazing here. For all the time that we've spent in the darkroom, and creating our imagery and burning the screen, we could now be sitting here for the next couple of hours and create 50, 75 prints that you could sell in your shop. (screeching) I think the payoff is really pretty much worth it for me. Super-satisfying. Really is. (screeching) Alright, I think that's probably gonna be it for the printing, 'cause we actually-- Excellent. Show people how we're gonna go ahead and clean up-- Ohh! And reclaim our screens. There's always cleanup. Thinking about the future, the investment that we've made in purchasing this screen and these materials is really gonna pay off as we continue to develop our process and continue printing. I'm gonna go ahead and lay this out. Because the great thing about this, is that this screen can be reclaimed, and we can put fresh imagery on here, as we're ready to do another project. So as I'm cleaning up, you'll see I'm just setting down some newsprint here to protect the surface and keep it from getting too messy. And we're gonna go ahead and reserve some of this ink and put it back into our ink container, because we don't wanna be wasteful. We wanna save this for another day. I'll go ahead and pool it here in front of me. (screeching). I think I said it before, but I'll say it again, just don't be discouraged and keep trying, even if you're running into some roadblocks.

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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