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.


  1. Great instructions. I can't wait to see how the fabric looks after you silkscreen!

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  3. Finding a method to silkscreen and control cost was fun. Considering the lack of expense, perhaps others will take the leap into this modified silk screen process, too. I'm glad you found the instructions clear.