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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Making Screens for Screen Printing

Making your own screen for screen printing is really super easy. It was even easier than I thought.
My sweetie always loves and opportunity to use his power tools so, it was a very simple project for me *grin*.
All I had to do was ask and point out how much money could be saved. So we gathered the items we needed and made four in about an hour or so on Thursday evening. It was great fun and they turned out so good and certainly will be durable.

I think the idea of making them with the specs that I wanted them was the biggest treat. We made the first screen 7.5" X 33" (inside measurment)actual outside measurment was 11.5" X 37". You may be asking "why so long and skinny?" Well, It is the perfect length for using 3 acrylic sheets with the designs on them, end to end for using the photo emulsion technique for transferring images to the screen. I have designed a few new scribble fabric designs and screening long chunks will be nice. The length is just perfect for me too. This was the motivation for building our own screens.

The items we used were:

1.5 yards of monofilament fabric mesh used for screen printing. See tip in blog about using other fabrics.

About (4 to 6) 6’x 2”x 2” pine boards

Screen spline. We bought the kit at the local hardware that had 3 different sizes in it because we were not sure the thickness we would use. You can find it in the screen door repair section of your hardware.

Wood glue

Box cutter


A corner clamp

A drill

Great music and a nice box fan… cause, boy was it hot in the barn!

First, Joe mitered the corners with his miter saw. Wow, it looks like it may be a great time to collect some of that saw dust for making fire starters for fireplace this winter. Opps, that's another project. Back on track.

After miter cutting the corners, he then cut the tuck line channels for the spline, using his table saw.

He set the saw to cut 1/4" deep. The blade width worked out perfect for using the .14 thick screen spline.

And as you can see here, he cut the channel 3/16" in on the side.

Next, he applied wood glue to all corner pieces for added strenght in the future.

Placing the wood frame pieces in a corner clamp.

Then using his cordless drill, he screwed the corners together from both directions.

These turned out beautiful and fit together perfect. Good job babe!

We placed the fabric mesh down over the frame. At this point we are not cutting it at all. I am on the other end pulling down toward the corner to lightly keep the fabric in place while Joe starts the .14 thick screen spline.

Once he has it tucked into the channel, he uses the spline roller tool to finish laying it in around all sides. Each time we rotated the frame, I would pull the mesh fairly taught at the bottom as he rolled the spline into the channel, making sure there was no wrinkling of the fabric.

Joe rolled around the channels one extra time, pushing the spline further into place.

He then trimmed off the end and tucked it in. We decided not to use any glue in the channels while adding the spline. We wanted to be able to replace the fabric when needed and the channels seemed deep enough that it didn't seem necessary. The .14 screen spline fit very nice and tight but still will be removable in the future The end result was good. The fabric was tight as a drum.

Joe then trimmed around the edges using a box cutter, still leaving about a good 1/4" of the fabric sticking out. I will be adding a waterproof stop fray around all the edges just to prevent any fraying.

A real thing of beauty here. These turned out awesome. The fit of the fabric is very good and the frames will last for years. Good job Honey!

*Fabric Tip* I am going to give using drapery sheer fabric a try very soon. An instructor from a screen printing class suggested it and said that it worked great and allowed the inks to flow through easier and on images that were chunkier and less detailed. So, I do intend on trying that route. I think it will save even more money.

In all we purchased 1.5 yards of monofilament screen fabric and paid $16.00 for it. We bought it at an art's and craft school supply store, so I am pretty certain we didn't get it for the best price there. We thought it best to maybe buy a small amount first to see how well the construction would go before making a larger investment to buy a roll. The cost for the wood, screen spline and spline tool was about $20.00. We did have a bit of left over spline after making 4 frames.

Using the 1.5 yards of fabric we made 4 frames of different sizes. One was the 7.5"X33" (inside measurment). The second measured 20"X33"(which is going to become a permant screen for my flower power fabric design). The final two screens measured 17"X19". I was amazed at the sizes using only 1.5 yds of fabric.

Roughly the cost worked out to be about 9.00 per screen and that was using a few screws that we had and not buying them. We also had wood glue on hand and didn't have to buy that as well. These screens are sure to last longer than any pre-made screens. Using the 2"x2"'s turned out to be lighter than I thought they would be but still weighty enough, I am sure they will not slip around on me while I work.

With the few small Speedball frames that I have and with these new frames that we have made, I will be set for a while before we may need a few new ones build.

I do love the idea of being able to make a few permant screens for future use. When being able to construct them for so much less, I won't feel guilty about having a few dedicated screens. I know so many printers love reclaiming a screen and cost wise, it is a good idea but the costs for fillers and emulsions can be costly. I think having a few permant screens for those designs you know you will be doing many more of in the future is worth saving.

I will let you know how using the sheer drapery fabric works out in the future. I am certain that it will not hold up as well as the monofilament fabric does but if it is much less per yard, it may be worth it and may work just fine for those dedicated screens that will not be reclaimed. A bit of scrubbing is required when reclaiming a screen for a new design and I am not sure how drapery fabric would hold up to that. I think washing out the inks after printing would be fine but really having to scrub a bit to get the fillers out it might not hold up as good.

Well, I hope this will give you a few tips on making your own screens for screen printing. It is very simple to do. If you would like to see blogs in the future on the process with the screen fillers and how an image is taken to the screen to be ready for screening, let me know and I will snap off a few shots here and there and post them up. There are many, many tutorials on line on this process if you are curious just google search. There are so many creative and talented folks out there using screen printing as a wonderful form of art.

Now get ready to see some designs made with these screens. They are coming!

Blessings All!

1 comment:

  1. Good job on the screen making there Hubby. They really look good. Looking forward to the fabric prints now.


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