Friday, 18 May 2012

screen printing with a cut paper stencil :: tutorial

want to learn the easy peasiest way to screen print ever? if you want to join in on the handprinted fabric swap and explore screen printing but are worried about how you're going to get a screen made, stop the worry, you can create your own design at home with the most basic of supplies. here we go...

::supply list::
screen printing frame (make your own at home or buy one at almost any art/craft supply shop)
paper in a similar size to your frame (basic printer paper is perfect for smaller frames or cut a piece from a roll for bigger frames)
cotton or linen fabric
cutting matt or piece of cardboard
utility knife/xacto knife/box cutter (whatever you want to call it)
squeegee
ink
spoon


paper stencil screen printing tutorial

okay, got all your stuff? now you're going to sketch out your design on the paper and then trim it out with the knife (or just go all crazy and start cutting like i did), using the cutting matt or cardboard underneath to protect your work surface. you could also work up your design on the computer (in Illustrator or another drawing program) and print it out, all ready for cutting. your design does have some limitations because you can't have shapes inside of shapes (you know?) but this doesn't mean it has to be super simple like the diamonds i have done. check out the work of paper cutting artists heather moore and rob ryan and you'll see what i mean (to a rather extreme degree!).

paper stencil screen printing tutorial

here is my finished design and my homemade screen, ready to print! ignore the marks on my screen, i was going to paint a big dot on it with screen filler and changed my mind.

paper stencil screen printing tutorial

now grab your fabric (i used a super fine pinwale cotton corduroy) and position the paper where you would like the design to print. lay your screen on top, making sure that the paper is covering all open mesh around the edges.

cut paper stencil tutorial

paper stencil screen printing tutorial

spoon your ink onto the screen and using fairly firm pressure, draw the squeegee across the screen. lift your screen up and voila! your design is nicely printed on the fabric and the ink magically adheres the paper to the screen, meaning that you can move the screen around and make multiple prints. when you are finished printing, simply peel the paper away from the screen, chuck it in the garbage and rinse your screen out in the sink or outside with a hose. dry it off and it's ready to print again with a new stencil!

you can usually make around 10 - 15 prints this way before the paper starts to get too soggy so it's perfect for small things like t-shirts, pillowcases or say, a meter of fabric for your swap buddies? it's also a great way to test designs before going to the cost and/or trouble of getting a permanent screen made. i've enjoyed using it to muck around with overprinting lately and don't plan to stop any time soon - i hope you guys get the same enjoyment out of this super easy printing method.


overprinted pinwale corduroy
three colour overprinted cotton corduroy using two standard emulsion screens and the cut paper diamond stencil shown above.

overprinted teatowels
four colour overprinted linen tea towel using two standard emulsion screens, one screen painted with screen filler and a cut paper lines stencil.

41 comments:

  1. I love it, would you go to the store for me..I adore it actually, I will have to put this on a bucket list for 2013, I have so much going on right now. Do you sale these home made kits with some paint? :) thank you for sharing, I have wanted to do this, my mom thought I wanted to do jewelry and make paper ( I am 48) so she sent me the stuff, havent touched, but I am getting a craft area made for stuff like this and I just love it, I love your designs too..

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  2. thanks, shirley! i don't have screen printing kits but you can pick up all of the supplies fairly cheaply at art supply stores or ebay. let me know when you get around to trying it out, i'd love to see!

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  3. Lovely tutorial! I've never tried printing this way, looks like utter simplicity which means I will be trying it very soon. Thanks for sharing!! :o) Devon

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  4. Marion4:35 pm

    Thank you very much ! Very helpfull tutorial.
    What kind of ink do you recommend, Leslie ?

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  5. i use permaset aqua ink and have found it to be great!

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  6. Thank you. I will try it !

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  7. That turned out beautiful, you've done a lovely job! I have this linked to my DIY screen printing post too today, for inspiration!

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  8. Laser cutting on this one is not necessary. T-shirt printing business is a good type of business.

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  9. These stencil effects will make a lovely effect engraved on a business letterheads for my shop. Thank you for this lovely idea.

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  10. Have you ever considered turning that into a business? Whether it's printed leaflets or full-blown banners, I'd bet you'd do really well at it.

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  11. Interesting. I could use these designs to decorate and customize my pocket folders in the office. It'll be a lot easier for me to figure out which is which among them.

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  12. I am sure I was supposed to find your tutorial by the law of the universe.. Last night I was searching for a screen print kit online to find they are all expensive for a basic starter kit.. Then I looked into doing a short course in Adelaide which is already booked out & still expensive. I gave up looking & then this morning your post about the fabric swap caught my eye, so I popped over to your blog & found exactly what I need.. I am wanting to print basic letters onto bunting flags & this is perfect.. Thank you :)

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  13. Can you offer any pointers on colour mixing please? I love the more muted tones like you often use but am a little unsure how to achieve similar tones and am hesitant to waste time and money on getting it wrong. Many thanks

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  14. Hi Pockets,
    I'm not really sure where to start with advice! I learned basic colour theory in design school 15 years ago and spent a lot of college time painting and mixing colours for my Illustration classes so it comes pretty naturally to me now. One tip for the muted tones I use it to start with white and add the coloured ink very sparingly, a bit at a time. And mix really, really well otherwise you will get chunks of the original inks smearing through as you screenprint - not great!

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  15. This would be great for table cloths or maybe furniture covers. I do have unused cloth in our backyard so I will definitely try to emulate this coming weekend.

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  16. Hi Leslie,

    would the same ink work with your hand carved stamps?

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  17. Custom screen printing on fabric is fun because it allows you to design your own t-shirt for special events easily and inexpensively and you have done really a great work.
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