Monday, May 31, 2010

Printing with an Embroidery Hooped Silk Screen

The embroidery hoop screen is now ready for printing.

For full instructions on how to create an embroidery hoop silk screening frame, applying a design to the screen, and masking a screen with house paint, refer to previous posts on May 26, 27, and 29, 2010.

Preprinting note: Prewash fabric that will be used for the printing. This will remove any sizing that the fabric has when it comes from the manufacturer. Do not use fabric softener. Iron the fabric smooth so that the printed images will appear crisp.


Embroidery hooped silk screen.
Padded board or other padded surface
Silk screen ink or fabric paint
Straight pins
Plastic spoon
Paper towels

1) Example of embroidery hoop that has been masked with latex indoor-outdoor house paint. (See previous section on how to mask a screen with house paint.)

2) Assemble screen printing materials. The items include: disposable tray on which to rest items that will accumulate ink in the printing process, plastic spoon to dispense paint onto the screen, squeege type spreading tools, and paper towels.

3) The screen printing ink used in this project is Speedball Opaque Screen Printing Ink. Other brands are acceptable to use, as is fabric paint.

4) Lay a padded board on a flat working surface. (The board shown here has been used many times and definitely shows it.)

5) Lay fabric that will receive the screen printing over the padded board. Pin straight pins around the entire work surface. It is important to stretch the fabric until it is taut. This prevents any wrinkling of the fabric when it is screen printed.

6) Place the embroidery hooped screen on the fabric.

7) Scoop a generous amount of screen printing ink from the jar. Apply the ink above the image to be screened and at other points on the screen to assure full ink coverage.

8) Lay the ink screening tool above the ink on a 45 degree angle and press down.

9) Press firmly while pulling the applicator down over the image to be printed. Check to assure that all areas have been covered. A second pull of the applicator over the image may be needed. With each pull, press firmly on the applicator. Do not move the screen or the image will blur.

10) DEALING WITH A MISTAKE: Since the frame extends substantially beyond the image example, printing the images closer together than the edge of the frame makes an overlap onto the previously printed image. If the ink from the first image is not dry, it will be picked up on the back side of the screen. It is essential to wipe off any ink on the reverse side of the screen before proceeding to the next pulled screening. In this case, I forgot one time to check the back of the screen for picked up ink. A slight ark shaped smudge appeared on the fabric. The illustration demonstrates how this error was added as a repeat design element.

11) Let the first printing dry. Then remove the pins that hold the fabric taught against the padded board. Reposition the fabric for another set of prints. Repeat Step 5 and pin the fabric onto the padded board.

12) Determine placement of the next printings by laying the original drawing on the area where the print will appear. Then position the screen over the drawing. Remove the paper and the screen will be ready to be inked and screened. This needs to be done because the masking of the screen is opaque, does not allow the previously printed images to be seen, and, therefore, the risk of overlapped images is great.

13) Final screen printed fabric.

14) Scrape ink that has accumulated on the screening tool back into the ink jar.

15) Heat set the images by placing a pressing cloth over the images and ironing with hot iron for 1 to 2 minutes.

The screen printing is now complete and ready to be incorporated into a project.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Masking the Embroidery Hooped Screen with House Paint

(Note: To see instructions for making this hooped screen and for preparing a design, see my posts on May 26 and May 27, 2010)

The embroidery hooped screen is now ready for masking. there are a variety of media that can be used, but for this example old, thick, latex house paint will be used. Once the paint is completely dry, the screen may be used over and over again because water cleanup does not destroy the mask. If generous margins had been left around the edge, this screen could, theoretically, be removed from the hoop, thus allowing the hoop to be used for another project. Later this screen could be placed, again, into the hoop and reused. Without generous margins of fabric, reinsertion will probably not be possible.


Hooped silk screen frame
1" and 1/4" stiff bristled artist brushes
Latex exterior house paint
Water for washing brushes
Container for water
Paper towels

1) Screen is prepared for masking. This image is of the side on which printing will ultimately be done.

Turn the hoop over and apply the mask to the reverse side.

2) The masking medium for this screen is old, latex house paint. It forms a thick mask, washes up with soap and water and becomes virtually permanent when dry.
3) Fill a container to the 1/2 level with water. This will be used to immediately clean brushes between uses. If the brushes are not cleaned quickly after each use, the latex house paint dries very fast and will harden the brushes and make them useless.
4) The 1" brush is used to fill the large blank areas around the drawn image. Smaller brushes are used to apply the mask to delineate details and to fill in the spaces next to the drawn lines of the image. This pictures shows that the large brush applied the mask to within approximately 1/4" of the drawn line of the image (left) and a small brush applied the mask UP TO the drawn line (right).
5) Fill in all the spaces where no screen printing ink will be applied. Carefully fill in masking details with small brush. Note the open areas around the arrow forms.
Closeup of areas that need to be filled in with a small brush.
7) When masking approaches completion, hold the hooped screen up to a bright light and look for pinholes of light coming through the masked areas. If any light shines through a masked area, add more masking medium. If this is not done, screen printing ink will come through that area and print on the fabric.
8) The previous picture shows the hooped screen being held up to a fluorescent light source and it did not offer consistent lighting. The hooped unit needed to be laid over a light box to assure that no further pinholes were evident. See two circular light holes on the right side of this example.
9) After fully masking the screen, set the hooped unit aside to thoroughly dry. Since old latex house paint can be very thick, let the piece dry in an area where air circulates for at least 12 hours. Once the masking medium is bone dry, the screen is ready for application of silk screen ink or fabric paint.

The next, and most fun, step is to use screen printing ink or fabric paint to put the image onto fabric. The next posting will have pictures and descriptions of that process.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Design Preparation for Embroidery Hoop Screen Print

If one is new to screen printing, it is important to recognize that a design must be created in reverse and is, therefore, somewhat counter intuitive. Thus, the instructions that follow are based on a very simple design that looks the same, even if it is reversed. If lettering is to be screen, letters must be written in reverse; otherwise, the image will be like trying to read words in a mirror.

The simple design chosen was the outline of a dress form.

Embroidery hooped screen (see instructions in blog entry dated 5/26/2010)Paper
Heavy leaded pencil
Duct tape

1) Sketch a design with pencil on paper.

2) Place the embroidery hoop screen on top of the sketch with the screening material touching the sketch.

3) Trace the sketch onto the screening material with dark pencil. In this example a stand shape has been added to the design after the original sketch was traced. This was drawn freehand and directly onto the screen. In the next view arrows have been drawn to add visual interest to this very simple design.

4) Cut 4" to 5" strips of duct tape. Press the strips around the entire edge of the screen and up the sides of the wooden hoop. This process creates a barrier between the hoop frame and the area that will be masked and silk screened with ink or paint. If not tape is affixed, wayward mask and/or ink may become caught between the screen and the fabric and this can compromise future screens with cross color contamination.

4) After the edges of the screen and the inside of the hoop have duct tape securely finger pressed in place, use scissors to cut away the excess duct tape that extends above the rim of the hoop. Note: Use all purpose scissors to cut the tape. Do not use good, fabric scissors.

5) Turn the hooped frame over. Once again, cut 4" to 5" strips of duct tape and affix them around the entire edge of the screen and the edge of hoop.

6) There is no need to carry the tape up this wooden side of the hoop. After the duct tape has been securely finger pressed to the screen and wooden edge of the hoop, use craft scissors to trim away excess duct tape.

7) After the excess tape has been cut away, the hoop will look like this on the reverse side:
8) Turn the hooped screen over.

9) Use fabric scissors to cut away the excess screening fabric. This may remain uncut; however, the excess material tends to become unwieldy when masking out the image.

10) . The top of the screen frame will look like this:

11) The reverse of the screen will look like this:
The embroidery hooped screen is now ready for masking. More fun lies ahead. Check back tomorrow for an update and instructions on how to mask a silk screen with ordinary exterior latex house paint.

Quilts on the Wall

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How to Make Screen Printing Frames with Embroidery Hoops

It's a morning to play. While making some simple embroidery hoop "silk screen frames", I took pictures along the way for those who may never have tried this technique. Embroidery hoops of various sizes may be obtained reasonably at craft and yardage stores; however, they are often abundant at thrift stores and yard sales and the prices in these venues cannot be beat. All of the hoops used for the frames in the pictures were discovered in thrift stores. Even the one that shows a $2 price tag only cost 50 cents at the thrift store. Bonus!! At this price, cost does not need to figure into the joy of experimentation and discovery of a new form of art expression.

Materials:Wooden embroidery hoops of any size
Sheer window curtain

1) Lay sheer window curtain material over the smaller, inside hoop of a two-part embroidery hoop and then place the larger hoop over this and push down to secure the sheer material inside the hoop.
2) Locate the tightening screw on the embroidery hoop.

3) Tighten the screw.

4) Turn the hoop over and pull the screen fabric from the back side of the hoop to make screen side tight. Go around the entire circle, pulling as you move the hoop.

5) Continue tightening the screw

6) If you happen to have several embroidery hoops, you may use this time to make more than one screen. Various sizes of hoops determine the size of the screen printing images that can be made, but these can be very handy for smaller designs.

This hoop was a very inexpensive one that was originally sold for $200 but was purchased at a local thrift store for 50 cents.

7) Repeat the process from #1. (Lay sheer window curtain material over the small, inside hoop of a two-part embroidery hoop and then place the larger hoop over this and push down to secure the sheer material inside the hoop.)

8) The less expensive hoops have a small tightening knob that may initially be tightened between the thumb and forefinger, but effective, full tightening needs to be done with the aid of pliers.

9) Repeat the process from #4 and #8 (pull from reverse to make fabric tight in the hoop and continuously tighten as you pull fabric taut).

10) Cut the assembled hoops away from the main panel of sheer curtain fabric.

11) Lay the prepared hoops flat on the work surface.

12) Separate the assembled hoops. Leave a generous margin around the hoops. This will allow enough fabric to make tugging and retightening easier, should the fabric become slack in the hoop.
13) Even small hoops may be used.

14) Here are examples of various sized hoops that have been prepared for screen printing.

15) ...AND oodles of curtain screen fabric remains. Ahhh, the potential is invigorating.

And always remember...