October 23, 2013 8:41 AM EDT
You don't need a lot of silk screening supplies, and some of them you can make yourself.
Silk screening is a creative stencil technique of print making. It uses ink that is pushed through a template and a screening material onto a t-shirt or other types of materials to create a design. There are different ways you can do this, but there are a few essential supplies that you need to have on hand at all times.
Silk Screening Supplies
- Newspapers: Keep plenty of these on hand to cover your workspace. Ink can get very messy.
- Cardboard: Sheets of cardboard are placed inside or behind the surface that's being silkscreened, so that the ink won't run through. For example, a sheet of cardboard is placed inside a t-shirt so that the ink doesn't run through to the back.
- Silk Screen Frame: Basically, this is a wooden frame with material attached tightly to one side, similar to a painter's canvas. Silk was historically used as this backing material, but any fine-meshed, porous fabric will work. You can buy a frame at craft stores or make your own.
- Photo Emulsion: These are sheets of transparent plastic that are easy to cut and durable, making them an ideal medium for complex designs. You can also use paper, oak tag or card stock to create your templates, but emulsion is best if you're planning on making several prints from a single design. This material can be found in craft stores.
- X-Acto Knife: This is used to cut the stencil design out of emulsion or paper.
- Ink: Be sure to ink formulated for silk screening in your projects. Silk screening ink has a consistency similar to artists' oil paints; it's very thick and has a low moisture content, allowing it to spread evenly without running.
- Squeegee: This tool is used to push the ink through the design and onto the fabric. It has a wooden or plastic handle running across the top of a rounded rubber or synthetic blade. If you're working with several different colors of ink on a project, you'll want a separate squeegee for each one.
- Waterproof Masking Tape: This is used to secure your design to the frame.
- Glass or Plastic Sheet: To keep ink from getting all over the things you print, you'll need a piece of glass or plastic the same dimensions as the inside of your silk screening frame. This should have a hole cut out of it that exposes your stencils. While you can mask off the frame with tape, this is a much more reliable way to keep ink from winding up where it doesn't belong.
- Work Surface: You'll need a large table or workbench to accomodate the frame and keep everything in reach. Strong lighting is very helpful if you'll be using this area to cut out your stencils.
With these basic supplies, you'll be able to screen print t-shirts, tablecloths and other fabric projects at home.