Let’s face it–screen printing just looks cool! The process is fun and interesting, and the finished product looks polished and professional. Plus, you can tell all your friends that you’re a real printmaker.
At IPMM, we love prints! They’re affordable and accessible, bringing the power of art to everyone without barriers. It’s why our entire Permanent Collection is made up of prints: because we believe that art is for everyone!
There are a few ways to make DIY screen prints at home with cheap supplies that you might already have lying around! It’s a great way to spend an afternoon by yourself, with friends, or even with your kids.
For this project, you’ll need an embroidery hoop, a pair of cheap tights or some cheesecloth, paint or ink, glue or Mod-Podge, paint brush, cardboard, printer paper, scissors, and a few sheets of nice, thick paper.
The embroidery hoop can be as large or small as you like. I have a few left over from a peak 2020-quarantine phase where I decided I was going to decorate all of my plain t-shirts, but you can easily find these on Amazon or at any art supplies store.
As for the tights, the cheaper the better, since you’ll be totally destroying them! Cheesecloth also works fine for this project.
Cut your tights with your scissors so that you are left with a flat piece of fabric slightly larger than your embroidery hoop. Stretch the fabric over the embroidery hoop and fasten it in. Make sure that the tight fabric (or cheesecloth fabric) is taut, with no slack, and firmly in the hoop.
The next step is to decide what design you’ll be screenprinting! It can be as complicated as you like, although things will get a bit more finicky the more detail you add. Cut your paper into a circle that is roughly the same size as your embroidery hoop. Draw the design on the sheet of computer paper, and cut out the parts that you want ink to fill with your scissors. You should be left with only the negative space.
Now, place the round, cut-out piece of paper over the top of your embroidery hoop. Hold it so it is still and does not shift. Then, paint the cut out parts of your paper design with glue or Mod-Podge, using a paint brush. Make sure that there is a thick layer of glue painted onto each of the areas that you don’t want ink to get through, and that there are no holes. Once you have painted all of the cut-out areas with glue, remove the computer paper design and allow the glue to fully dry.
After your glue has dried, your screen is ready to print. Get your paint or ink ready, as well as a small rectangular piece of cardboard, and your nice sheets of paper.
Just turn the screen over and center it on the piece of paper. It may be helpful to weigh the paper down with something heavy on each of the corners so it does not shift during the process. Next, glop some paint or ink on your screen and use the piece of cardboard to spread it around in an even layer. Make sure every bit of the hoop is covered in your paint or ink.
Go over everything one more time with the cardboard, and then lift the hoop straight up, without wiggling it or moving it side to side. Your design should have transferred onto your paper!
Most printmakers use their first pull of any print as a test run. They see how their design has worked, if there are any flaws to work out, and how the color looks. If there are any flaws in your screen, you can wash the hoop and fabric with soap and water, wait till it dries, and add more glue. If you didn’t love the way the paint/ink spreads, you can keep practicing and adjust the amount you add or your spreading technique.
Once you adjust everything to your liking, you can screen print as many versions of your design as you like. This is called a run! Printmakers sign and number their prints in the bottom corner. Feel free to mix up the colors as you go.
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