Popular screen printing projects include logo T-shirts for a family or a team. To screen print a tee you make a stencil, and then paint ink through it in your desired design. With this method, and practice, you can also transfer images to paper or wood.
The process takes time but is not difficult. Be sure to protect your work surfaces, or work outside. Craft and fabric stores have the materials you need:
White or pastel T-shirts in sizes for your family.
Cheap brushes, small round and larger flat (gluing wrecks brushes).
A used picture frame large enough to contain your design.
Screen printing ink.
1 cup Elmer's Glue-All, diluted with 1/3 cup water, well stirred.
Sheer synthetic curtain fabric
Find a simple image, and run it through your copy machine on the black-and-white setting, or take the image to a copy center and have them print it.
Take the back off the frame, and lay it over the curtain fabric so that the fabric is behind the frame. You should have at least an inch of fabric on each side. Pull it tight and smooth. Staple the fabric to the front of the frame. Going around the frame, put one or two staples in the bottom edge, then one or two in the top, some in the left side and then some in the right. Smooth and tighten the fabric as you alternate, until the fabric is taut. If you cannot find a suitable frame, you can make one of cardboard covered with foil, but it will be relatively fragile.
Lay the screen over the image so that the fabric touches the picture. Trace the image onto the cloth with pencil. Go over the lines repeatedly so they are sharp and distinct.
Turn the frame over and set it up on bricks so you do not glue it to your work surface. Paint glue everyplace you don't want the ink to go through. Let dry. This can take a few hours, or more, depending on conditions.
Meanwhile, prepare your cloth or paper. Fabric should be washed, dried and ironed if necessary. If you are putting an image on a tee, place shirt cardboard or layers of newspaper between front and back. Using masking tape, tape the tee to your work surface.
When the glue has dried on the stencil, place it face down on your shirt, center it and carefully paint your image through the stencil. One technique is to stipple in the edges with a small round brush, and paint the larger areas with a wide brush. Some people use a small squeegee. Experiment.
Carefully peel the stencil off. Immediately rinse thoroughly, perhaps with a garden hose; pat dry, and continue to the next T-shirt. Never let paint dry on the stencil.
When the T-shirts are dry, iron with a pressing cloth to set the ink. Thereafter, wash on the warm and gentle cycle.
As your skills improve, you can use more than one stencil in a design, or paint different areas of a stencil with different colors. There is no end to the possibilities for screen printing projects.
Photo emulsion used in silk screening can be safely removed without destroying the screen, using a mixture of bleach and water.
Ready to learn how to screen print t-shirts? Follow these tips so that your project is a success.