Friday, June 18, 2010

How does silk-screening work?

At Dock This Way Embroidery and Design, we also specialize in silk screening services, as exemplified by our famous Tide Shirts. We’ve done everything from sports team shirts, to company tee’s to hand out at a corporate event. We work with artists to make sure that the artwork you want gets translated into your vision: but how does it work?

We have access to large machines that enable us to turn around quick orders. However, it is possible to DIY and silk screen from home using store-bought materials. My daughter took a screen printing class in Florence, and went through the whole process herself. (Here is one of her more complex pieces)

1.) Get your image, establish your colors. Once you have a design or drawing that you’d like to silk screen on a garment, pick the colors you’d like to use. Remember, you’ll need a different screen for each color, so you may want to start off simple.

2.) Trace your design onto mylar or tracing paper. Your design has to go on completely transparent paper, and you have to paint the areas that you want to receive color, and do not define the negative spaces to prevent color from bleeding through.

3.) Get a screen. A screen is typically a wooden frame with cloth (ideally silk = silk screen, get it?) stretched around it.

4.) Coat your screen. You can buy screen emulsion at many craft stores, like Blick. Coat the screen evenly, and in a low-light area, as it is sensitive to light like photo-film.

5.) Place your design on your screen, then take outside. If you don’t have access to a large exposing light, simply place your image on the outside (not where the frame is exposed) and leave in the sun. This will expose the areas around your design, and “cut” through the screen. Bring inside, remove your drawing, then wash, and you’ll have a negative of your design.

6.) Secure the garment, clamp the screen. Pin down your garment onto a table, then clamp your screen drum-side down (using everyday clamps that can be bought at a hardware store) where you’d like the design to appear on your item.

7.) Pull the ink. Blot some ink on a squeegee, and hand pull over the screen 3-4 times. This will assure the ink goes through all holes and looks crisper.

8.) Let dry. Remove the screen straight-up, set aside to dry. Repeat if your design has other layers or colors after the first garment is dry. Start with the lightest color and move up to the darkest.

Contact us to get your own silk screen job done, and check out some hand-pulled Italian works done abroad!

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