I'm super amazed by this DIY project, even after doing it on quite a few tees with total success. I got a chance to review a DIY screen printing kit from DIYPrintShop.com and actually screen printed tees like the pros do, with the ink and dark room and everything!!
It's funny how this came about--it's actually just because a met a guy who works for the company that makes these handy kits. We started chatting about blogging and I was so excited that they had home presses for people like me to use!! I thought you readers might want to watch me try it out!! (I got the kit and Instagrammed it ages ago, remember?!)
So my new buddy Alan and DIYPrintShop.com sent me this incredible screen printing kit to try out. I was intimidated. I enlisted the help of my artsy little brother-in-law, who's done a bunch of printing (wood blocks on paper, mostly) and so had slightly more experience than me, and then the help of my sweet husband once my bro-in-law had to go home. Two weekends and a couple trips to the store later (we were out of printer cartridge ink to print out the design onto the transfer, kind of the first step... ;) ) we were in business!!
We made tees with my husband's blog logo on them (edit--since you asked--Grassfed Geek = after years of vegetarianism and veganism, we're really into meat from heathy animals and improving our health by eating grassfed/pastured meat). His cute blog logo was the first thing we could think of that we knew we'd want lots of. Because you can freezer paper stencil one tee, or use a Silhouette machine or something, but a screen press is great if you want a bunch of the same image!! So we made these for Christmas gifts for husband's family. (Hey, family--if you're reading this, turn away unless you want the Christmas surprise to be ruined!!)
So check it out, you guys. The kit comes with all this good stuff, pretty much everything you need except the printer ink for your home printer, which you hopefully have already, unlike me. We also bought black trash bags to cover the screen before we had exposed it. I'll get to that later. This stuff is all entirely new to me so I really really appreciated the extremely thorough DVD that came with it!! The friendly DIY Print Shop guy explained everything so well and was so cheerful! ;)
We set everything up in the dining room at first, just needed a big table surface. We built the press and light, but didn't bolt them down to anything like the instructions say.
It comes with the perfect board for your tees and the press when exposing.
So then I did all the steps to prepare the screen, coating both sides evenly with the light-sensitive emulsion. No photos of that part, since we did everything in the guest bathroom-turned-darkroom. We covered the screen in the black trash bag when leaving the room and honestly for a couple days while I worked up the courage to expose it. The kit comes with an orange bulb for the dark room and everything!
|The transparency--Husband's IG|
[Once we bought the right printer cartridge...] we printed out the logo onto the transparency. The exposing part was super cool. You lay the transparency on the emulsion-coated screen, and expose it to light so the black ink part stays dark. The light it comes with get SUPER hot! We put a piece of glass over the transparency to keep the lines super clean and exposed it for 13 minutes or whatever the book said for if you're using glass.
Then, you just wash off the coated screen where the design was, and look--a negative space!! (Wish we'd had a high power sprayer in the bathroom... might try to use the other bathroom with the fancy showerhead next time. You need the high power to blast off the unexposed emulsion.
Here it is drying off under the warm light again...
So making the screen was the intimidating part, really. Light proof-ness and all that. Then it was time to print!
To print, you put the screen into the press (where the light was) and line it up, and put the adhesive on the white tee board to hold your tee perfectly still when you press. Here it is in a dry run. Exciting!
Then lift the screen a little, and apply the ink.
Then you get to use the big squeegee and coat the screen with ink... then lay the screen flat, and give a solid PULL across the design.
It was amazing how well it worked! The lines are SO clean, and we were able to get an almost perfectly even text with only one or two pulls!
Then you lay the special paper over the design and press the ink for a minute or two while it dries. Then it's totally set!
We made a bunch. Big boxy ones...
A women's cut one...
Seven tees! Whew!!
Super cool, right?!!?! Until I met my buddy Alan I had no idea you could screen print at home!, but now I'm hooked!!! I can't wait to make tees that say something else... think we may do some Portland Bloggers tees one of these days! I feel so powerful, having this super cool press and the ability to (sort of) mass-produce super quality printed tees (or anything made of fabric!). Amirite?!