Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How to: Screen Print with Hen Laying Egg

In this tutorial, Kelly Flynn of the amazing screen printing company, Hen Laying Egg shares her screen printing knowledge! Kelly takes us through the steps of making this Light Leaked shirt, which for the next two week ONLY can be purchased here!

Materials Needed: 
Dual Cure Emulsion kit
Plastisol ink
Transparency film
Bug Lights (for darkroom)
Ink squeegee
Silk Screens
Exposure Unit

Screen Printing your ART ideas onto clothing

Screen printing supplies/equipment vary from homemade kits to garage set-ups, to huge automatic 16+-color press warehouses! – HEN LAYING EGG studio is a home-based garage set-up with a manual 4-color press screen set-up. – but remember your mind is your only limitation to what you can achieve! Have fun and always follow your dreams!

The basic idea behind silk screening is pretty simple and works similar to a stencil. Instead of cutting out shapes individually, you coat a screen in photo emulsion (a light-sensitive coating), then cut an image out using a bright light. Then pressing ink though the screen onto your textile material and – BANG – your art is printed!

Step 1: Printing your artwork

For your first artwork attempt, start with something simple without a lot of thin lines. A standard silhouette using Photoshop/Illustrator is an easy way to go. You need a solid black image because its only real purpose is to block the light. Print your artwork graphic (preferably in vector format) on transparency film as a positive image in black opaque ink only. Remember to print artwork with center crop marks to register your artwork to the screen. The image you pick will be burnt into the emulsion in step four.

Step 2: Mixing Emulsion

The Dual Cure Emulsion kit comes in 2 parts: the sensitizer and the emulsion. Mix them together according to the directions on the bottle.– the bucket of emulsion and then a bottle of sensitizer mixer called Diazo (which is the ingredient that makes the emulsion light-sensitive – mix 1/2 of the bottle with Distilled Water).

Once mixed, let the emulsion sit uncovered in the darkroom for 2 hours to let all the air bubbles out. Then reseal lid until you are ready to coat the screens.

Tip: When mixing emulsion, be sure to handle and mix in a light-safe environment, or it may become unusable. Fortunately, when properly stored, mixed, handled, emulsion can last up to three months.

Scoop Coater and Squeegee 

Step 3: Coating the screens

In your light-safe environment, pour emulsion into a scoop coater. Scoop coaters are a key tool for proper emulsion to apply a thin amount to each side of the screen. Coat the back of the screen first, flip around and then coat the front.

Once coated, place the screen in your drying rack, (front side of screen facing upward) with a fan to help dry for about 25 minutes until completely dry.

After your screen is dry, it is time for exposing.

Step 4: Exposing your screen

It's time to expose the screen to the light. In that same pitch black room (don't turn on the light yet)

Place your graphic transparency centered on the back of the screen using tape. Then place your screen on top of your exposing unit with the transparency “sandwiched” between the back of the screen and the glass of the exposing unit.

Now turn on the light in your exposure unit and expose the screen for the appropriate amount of time of your unit.

Depending on the light temperature of your exposing unit and screen mesh count* – the exposure time can vary from 10 seconds to 15 minutes.

*What is screen mesh count? The screen mesh count is an important factor in determining the amount of ink to be deposited as well as the amount of detail the screen can hold. The mesh size is measured by how many threads there are per square inch. For Example, an 86 mesh screen has 86 threads per square inch. The higher the mesh count, the finer the holes are in the screen allowing finer detail but also reduces the amount of ink you can deposit. The size of the mesh has a lot to do with how thick the ink you are using is. How detailed your image is also a consideration in the mesh count selection. Usually in my studio, I use screens with a 110 mesh count through 280 mesh count.

Once your screen has been exposed for the appropriate amount of time, remove the transparency from the back of your screen and put your screen in your “wash-out” area. Spray your screen down with water from a hose, sink, shower head or pressure-washer. Notice how the section where your image is starts to flake off? Continue spraying it until you can see through your image clearly. Hold the screen up to the light to make sure it looks exactly like your transparency.

Once your screen has been washed out – it is no longer light-sensitive and can be taken into any light source environment.

Place your wet screen on the drying rack (with a fan) for about 25 minutes to dry.

Step 5: Let the FUN begin – Printing time!

The type of in the HEN LAYING EGG uses is a Plastisol ink*

*What is Plastisol ink? Is it a widely used ink in the garment printing industry. They are easy to print and do not dry on the screen (as opposed to Water-Based inks). The ink is composed of PVC resin and a plasticizer and when heated to 320 degreases it melts into the fibers of the garment making a permanent bond.

Insert your screen onto the press and align the center crop marks on the screen to the center line on your printing platen (the square plate that your t-shirt is placed on)

Once centered, place tape on the back side of your screen to cover up the center crop marks to prevent ink from coming through during the printing process.

Lay your shirt centered on the flat platen. Then pull down your screen on top of the shirt and make sure the design is where you want it placed on the shirt.

Pour a small amount of ink horizontally across the top of the screen. Take your squeegee and make one smooth movement down the screen, exerting strong pressure (if this is your first time, it's a good idea to try this on a scrap t-shirt before printing on your shirt). Run the squeegee up, and down a couple times to push all the ink through onto the shirt.

If you are only making a 1-color ink image – the next step is to dry it. However, if you are making a multiple design t-shirt, you must cure each color under the “Flash” oven for 15 seconds to gel-harden the top layer of ink before the next color is printed. Each color in you design has to have a separate color screen made. Once you are finished printing, place the shirt under the flash dryer for about 45 seconds until it reaches 320 degrease. This will allow for the ink to fully cure and is ready to wash, wear and enjoy forever!!!

Step 6: Optional Added Flare

Want to add some BLING to your design? Happen to have a heat press? Try adding some foiling to your design! Foil is an easy and attractive effect when decorating garments. Garment foil comes on rolls in various colors.

Today we are using silver foil to create a unique look on some black photo darkroom aprons. Foil will stick to plastisol ink and not stick to the regular non-printed fabric. After you print your design (I used black ink to blend better with the black apron) lay your fabric onto the heat press and cut a foil strip off the roll big enough to cover the design area that you want the foil to stick to. Set your heat press between 280-375 degrease and press down between 4-9 seconds. Lift the heat press lid and then quickly remove the foil strip – and you will be left with a shinny design. It is best to hand-wash foiled designs to keep the brightness of the foil looking top-notch!

Hope you have enjoyed the demo!

Check out www.HenLayingEgg.com for all of your photo clothing needs!!!!

For a the next two week only, purchase your own Light Leaked shirt!!!! 

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