Monday, June 08, 2009

Screen printing basics

Here are some basics of the screen printing process that we use here in our fancy garage setup for tribabe.com

This is a wood frame screen, the wood is vulnerable to warping after repeated rinsing with water so a metal frame is preferential. Light sensitive emulsion is applied to the screen, this must be done in the dark and the screen must remain in the dark until you expose your image to it. There are no photos of that for obvious reasons. You can print your image onto a transparency using a basic printer, then tape the image to the screen and put under a bright light for the proper exposure time. I won't get into details here because it varies for different light wattages etc.

Once your image is burned onto the screen, you rinse away the emulsion and you are ready to print. This means you have to get your blank shirts ready. This is what my blank shirts look like after they are shipped from American Apparel, so I get to do a whole lot of ironing to get them ready to print.

There are various ways you can mix color for ink. You can even use the Pantone system, I haven't invested in that yet. I do use water based inks which are more environmentally friendly. I like color so this is one of my favorite parts.

Here is the image we burned onto the screen. I taped off areas of the screen that we are not using to print, I have two images on this screen so I had to tape off the area with the other image so it would not get ink on it.

Ink is placed on the screen and you pull the ink across the image using a squeegee. The t-shirt is underneath the screen.

The shirt with the freshly applied ink is placed under a heating element which heats the water out of the ink and sets the image onto the shirt.

The finished shirt. Bill questioned my choice of color initially but after printing we both agreed that the color turned out nice. When all is said and done, I feel happiest with new designs when I take chances and try something a little non-conventional. Bill likes the conventional designs and colors so we make a good design team.

Poppies line the roads here in Oregon this time of year and I only get to see them from the car right now since my pregnant belly isn't allowing me to ride my bike. That's ok, I have cute shirts now!

2 comments:

Maggs said...

I love the colors of that shirt. I'm going to get around to using the gift certificate from Tasha's drawing this week. Everytime I wear the will run for beer hat people ask me about it. Hopefully some of them order from you.

Amanda Whitmire said...

Cool - thanks for sharing the process. I love the new design - the poppies ARE amazing this time of year!