A quick screen-printing introduction

Screen-printing has been around for a couple of centuries – appearing in Japan, Europe and particularly France – and I’ve been wanting to try my hand at the art for about as long as that. I finally got the chance to have a go over the weekend, thanks to the Ministry of Craft and award-winning Manchester-based surface designer Nell, who showed me the basics in an hour-long class. Verdict? I LOVE IT!

What you need to get started:

– Cartridge paper for stencilling

– Craft knife

– Fabric paint in a variety of colours

– Silk screen and frame

– Rubber coating blade

– Apron

– Fabric

A real paint party

As Nell explained on the day, you first need to come up with a stencil design and chop it out with your craft knife, bearing in mind that the cut-out bits will be the ones that appear in paint on your fabric. Place this stencil on top of your fabric and your silk screen on top of this. (If your fabric is bigger than the silk screen, stick some masking tape up the sides so you don’t get any unwanted paint anywhere.)

Dab some paint at one end (remembering that a little goes a long way) and then scrape it from one end of the screen to the other repeatedly, pressing down quite hard and holding the screen firmly in place with one hand. Take a quick and careful peek under the screen to see if the paint’s covered the whole design and then lift off if you’re satisfied. Wait for it to dry, give it a quick iron to set the paint and hey presto! Your first bit of screen-printing done and dusted.

Here’s what I came up with:

I wanted to have a variety of colours in my picture, so stopped halfway up the stencil with my purple and switched to green. The combined effect of the two shades looks great, although I found that it was best to use two very contrasting colours so they both show up properly. The bag I did wasn’t as good as my sample piece because the green was too dark (there was a lighter green available but this other woman in the class was very reluctant to share it!)

Do it again?

I had a great hour screen-printing and really do want to have another go. I’m just not sure I want all that mess in my house, since I splashed paint all over the place and had to do some quick cover-up jobs with sheets of paper and masking tape so I didn’t ruin my bag.

Which of you are screen-printing experts? Got any tips to help me out?

6 Responses to “A quick screen-printing introduction”
  1. Love it! I’ve always wanted to do this on my own and found it fascinating! The nice thing is you can take your own drawings and do this to put them on shirts, aprons and more!

    • Sarah Adie says:

      It was great fun! Buying all the equipment you need’s quite expensive though, I think. Apparently a starter kit’s around £100, but getting everything separately might work out cheaper. Plus there’s always eBay!

  2. It looks great! I like the design.

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