Last winter, I took a required class for my major (Media Arts and Technology) called Print Production Workflow. We had to do a major group project on a type of printing process. My group chose to research screen printing and we actually created designs, screens, and printed on t-shirts.
First, we created a design in Adobe Illustrator and printed it onto acetate transparency (clear paper) using a regular inkjet printer with black ink. The color of the design does not come into play until later in the process.Second, we had to tightly attach the screen to the frame by using a screwdriver, a hammer, and a roller to insert cord into the frame gap.
Third, we burned the stencil design onto the mesh (screen). We applied photographic emulsion (a green pasty substance) to the mesh to make it sensitive to light. The transparency with the design is placed over the mesh and exposed to light from a light box. The transparent paper acts as a net and light is only let through where you can see through the paper. The light is blocked by the black design on the transparency, which makes the photo emulsion soft. This is important because it allows the emulsion to be washed off so a stencil is left over.
The fourth step is touching up the image. The burning didn’t transfer some of our images perfectly, so we touched up the screen with emulsion remover on the spaces that didn’t come off with the hose. We also used screen filler in the spaces that came off with the hose that we wanted to stay on.
Fifth, we applied ink through the screen onto the tshirts. We used red ink and a squeegee and were extra careful to apply even pressure so that the ink transferred properly.
Lastly, we dried the ink with blow dryers and set the ink by ironing the shirt with a piece of paper between the iron and the fabric.