Screen Printing - Lawrence Art Supplies

Screen Printing - Lawrence Art Supplies
Clear an area for your project. A card table (or similar
space) will provide enough work area. It is necessary to
locate your work area with easy access to a large sink or
laundry tub with hot and cold water.
Step A
Two hinges with screws and removable pins are included in
some Speedball® kits. These are easily attached by first
joining the halves together with hinge pins. It is best to
mount the side of the hinge with two bearings to the base
and the side of the hinge with one bearing to the screen
frame. Then, position the assembled hinges over the “pilot”
holes on top of the frame and base and screw them in
place. Be sure they are right side up. Speedball® offers
heavy duty hinge clamps for bigger screens. Follow this by
screwing the kickleg to the side of the frame. A “pilot” hole
has been provided for this also. Note the kickleg should be
If you plan to make a large number of prints, you may wish
to set up a “clothesline” that will enable you to hang your
prints with either clothespins or binder clips for drying.
Additional Items To Have On Hand
• Water resistant masking tape (1” wide)
• Screw driver
• Old newspapers
• Sheet of cardboard
• Small nylon scrub brush
Step B
The next important step in preparation is to detach the
frame from the base and scrub both sides of the screen
fabric with a nylon brush and dishwasher powder/water
• Scissors
• Small lamp or lamp cord
with a standard socket
BBA No. 1 photoflood or
a clear 150 watt incan
descent bulb.
NOTE: Light bulbs may
be found a most
photo supply stores.
• Reflector shop light
(available at any
hardware store).
You may also use an
aluminum pie pan as
your reflector (cut a
hole large enough for the light socket to fit through, slide
socket through the hole and screw light bulb in place).
• Cellophane tape
• Paper cups
• Speedball® Super Black India Ink
• Old towels, rags, paper towels
• 9” x 12” piece of glass, Plexiglas, or Lucite
• Rubber gloves
• Apron or smock
Speedball® Screen Printing Instruction Booklet
Let it dry thoroughly after rinsing. For water-based inks,
use 1” wide water-resistant masking tape. Lay the tape so
it is divided equally half on the screen fabric, and half on
the screen frame. Turn the frame over and cover the
groove with tape. Be certain that the tape extends beyond
the frame and onto the fabric. For solvent-based inks, use
seal gummed water-soluble tape with several coats of
polyurethane. • 1.800.898.7224
Taping in this way helps to maintain a “tight” screen, and
prevents ink from leaking under the screen frame during
printing and will keep the edges of your prints clean. To get
maximum adhesion of the tape, rub it with a spoon. When
choosing your pattern or design make sure to leave a generous border from the taped edges (minimum of 1” from
taped edge).
Step C
There are a number of ways to prepare a screen to print
your picture or message. While the methods are different,
the basic principle is to make a stencil on the screen fabric
which allows ink to be forced through its “open” areas to
produce a design.
This is the best method for a beginner. It is the fastest,
least expensive, and simplest way to prepare a screen. The
Paper Stencil Method is good for geometric shapes and
basic patterns. It is not intended for complicated designs or
lettering. Begin by cutting an illustration from paper. Keep
the paper flat and not wrinkled. For more accurate and
durable cut paper stencils, use freezer wrap (shiny side
up). Designs can be cut with scissors or stencil knife or
they can be torn to create a textured appearance.
Step A
Cut your paper stencil. You may wish to create a design by
folding and cutting your paper as illustrated. For your stencil, you can use either the cutout or the paper remaining.
to the underside of the screen, creating a stencil effect.
Once you see how simple this method is, you may wish to
try variations by creating two or three designs with torn
paper of various shapes and printing each in a different
color or hue. Do not overlap cutout pieces on the screen.
NOTE: Generally ten to fifteen prints can be satisfactorily
produced by this method. When a larger number of prints
are desired, you should use one or more “permanent”
(Direct block-out or “Negative Method”)
Using Screen Filler is another simple means of preparing a
screen for printing. The screen filler is used to block out
those areas that you do not wish to print. This allows the
ink to be forced through the screen wherever the Screen
Filler has not been applied.
Step A
On a sheet of plain paper, make up the illustrations or message you wish to print with your screen. Place this layout
on a tabletop. Place your screen over this layout and trace
your design directly on the screen fabric using a soft lead
Step B
Stir the Screen Filler until it is thoroughly mixed to a
smooth consistency. Using a paintbrush, paint the screen
filler on all areas of your layout that you do not want to
print. Be certain that the bottom
of the screen is elevated (not
touching the table). When all
areas to be blocked out are
covered with Screen Filler,
flip the screen over and
smooth out places the filler
may have collected on the
opposite side of the
screen. Be careful during
process not to distort
your work.
Step C
Leave the screen to dry in a level position. Make sure nothing touches the areas covered with Screen Filler. Thorough
drying is necessary. Overnight drying is recommended to
assure best results.
Step B
Position printing paper under the frame. Lay your cutouts
on this paper as desired and lower the screen.
Step C
Follow the directions found in section “Making Prints”. Press
down on the screen frame to ensure complete contact with
all cutouts. Make your first print. You will find with the first
pass of the squeegee, the ink will cause the cutouts to stick • 1.800.898.7224
Check for pinholes in the blocked-out areas. You can do this by
holding the screen up to a light. Fill any pinholes with Screen
Filler and allow to dry completely. You are now ready to print.
N O T E : Since Screen Filler is applied to all areas which are
not to be printed, this – along with all traditional “direct”
methods – is considered to be a “negative” method of
printing. Your print will be the opposite of that which you
created in your screen.
Speedball® Screen Printing Instruction Booklet
(Tusche – resist or “positive method”)
tom-side up. Using a hair dryer or fan may accelerate drying time. Move to section marked “Making Prints”.
Step A
On a sheet of plain paper, make up the illustration or message you wish to print with your screen. Place this layout
on a tabletop. Place your screen over this layout, top side
up. Trace your design directly on the screen fabric with a
soft lead pencil.
S t e p A (Alternative)
The preparation of a layout is to help guide the application
of Drawing Fluid. If you feel such a guide is unnecessary,
go directly to Step B.
Step B
You can work on either side of the screen. Remember, however, that your printing will be done from the top (or “inkfill”) side of the screen.
Use polyester screen fabric. Nylon will stretch with waterbased inks and is not suitable. Do not use silk or organdy
if you wish to reclaim the screen.
Be certain that the screen is elevated – not touching the
table. Using a paintbrush, paint the Drawing Fluid over those
areas of your layout that you want to print. Leave the screen
to dry in a level, flat position. Make sure nothing touches the
areas covered with Drawing Fluid.
This is one of the most exciting methods of screen printing
because it offers the widest range of possibilities. It makes
possible the printing of fine line drawings, various hand and
commercial lettering techniques, as well as photographic
half-tone positives.
Step C
After the Drawing Fluid is completely dry, open the Screen
Filler and mix it thoroughly to a smooth consistency. Spoon it
onto the screen fabric on the same side of the screen used for
the application of Drawing Fluid.
All methods of photographic screen printing require three
1. A screen prepared with a light-sensitive coating
(Photo Emulsion).
2. A film positive, or equal (Your printed transparency or
acetate sheet).
3. A light source that will enable you to transfer the
opaque images on your positive to the light-sensitive
stencil you have prepared.
Use the squeegee or the plastic
spreader to apply an evenly
smooth coating over the
entire screen. Make only
one pass. Multiple passes
of Screen Filler will dissolve
the Drawing Fluid and prevent character washout. Again, put the screen to dry in a
horizontal position making sure nothing touches the fabric.
It is important that the Screen Filler dries completely.
Step D
When the Screen Filler has thoroughly dried, spray cold
water on both sides of the screen. Concentrate the spray
on the areas where Drawing Fluid was applied. These areas
will wash out and the screen will open at the points so that
ink can flow through them. If some areas remain slightly
blocked, scrub them lightly with a small stiff brush on both
sides. (An old toothbrush will work well.) If necessary you
can use Greased Lightning or Washing Soda by Arm &
Hammer dissolved in warm water (1 cup per gallon of
water). D O N O T U S E H O T W A T E R D U R I N G T H I S
S T A G E . Allow your screen to dry in a level position, bot-
Speedball® Screen Printing Instruction Booklet
Step A – Mixing the photo emulsion
D i a z o S y s t e m : Follow the mixing instructions given on
both containers. Store the sensitized emulsion in a cool and
dark place. Shelf life for the sensitized emulsion is 4 weeks
at 90°F, 8 weeks at 70° F, and 4 months when refrigerated.
Step B – Coating the screen
Coat the screen by first pouring a bead of the
solution on one end
of the bottom side
of the screen. Spread
it evenly and thinly with
the squeegee. Use more
solution where necessary,
spreading evenly with the
squeegee. Repeat this process on the backside of the
screen, working to achieve an even continuous coating on
both sides of the screen fabric. Return any of the excess
solution to your mixing container. Be careful to clear away
any extra drips of solution to obtain proper exposure. • 1.800.898.7224
Step C – Drying the coated screen
In an area AWAY FROM LIGHT AND HEAT, set the screen to
dry horizontally, bottom side down. This will provide the
most even, flat “film” on the underside of the screen. It will,
however, require your elevating the four corners of the
underside of the frame during the drying stage with push
pins or other suitable devices. An empty drawer, cupboard,
cabinet, closet, or under a cardboard box will work we allow
the screen to dry thoroughly. If more than 300 prints are to
be run, it is best to apply a second coating of the sensitized
Photo Emulsion to the bottom of the screen after the first
coat is dry. Remember, work for a smooth even THIN coating. Repeat the process away from heat and light.
Once the sensitized screen is dry, it must remain in a darkened area until it is ready to be exposed. A fan in the dark
area will greatly speed up the drying of the emulsion on the
Step D – Preparing a positive
With Speedball®’s Diazo System, the maximum allowable
time between application of the sensitized emulsion to the
screen and the exposure is four weeks at room temperature, in a completely dark environment.
A “positive” is any opaque image (usually black), on any
transparent or translucent surface (like acetate). There are
many ways you may choose to prepare them.
An excellent transparent film for this purpose is prepared
acetate (printed directly on the acetate by your printer, or
copying an image onto the acetate via copy machine). The
printed sheets (positives) have copy and illustrations that
may be used to create a picture or message. With the plain
sheets, you may make artwork on your own with
Speedball®’s Super Black Ink and an artist’s brush, speedball Drawing Pens or enamel paint pens. Excellent results
can also be obtained by using a dry transfer, or pressure
sensitive letters and symbols. These can be applied directly onto tracing paper or clear plastic or acetate. The graphics must be opaque to light (not see-through). Natural
items such as leaves may be used between the glass and
Using a desktop computer, you can download many copyright-free images suitable for screen printing from any simple graphic program. You can print that image directly on
to transparency material (acetate). You can also make
copies on a copier that will accept transparencies.
T I P : To get a bold solid image, try making 2 copies of the
same image on transparencies. Match the designs and tape
together for use as a positive.
Step E – Light source
The BBA No.1 bulb is preferable, particularly for fine graphics because the exposure time is less. To set up your “light
station” place the screen on top of a piece of black paper
and center it 12 inches directly below a 150W clear incandescent bulb or a BBA No.1 Photoflood bulb. You can also
us a light table with 20W florescent tubes. Either should be
fitted with a reflector shop light.
Unfiltered black light tubes will cut exposure time considerably. Maybe as little a 3–5 minutes. You need to test for
The positive can be placed in contact with the coated (dry)
screen by either of the above methods.
Step F
Before you remove the sensitized screen from the dark drying area, make sure everything you need to print with is on
hand. Set up your exposure lamp as described in Step E.
Copy and illustrations (positives) can be fixed in place with
cellophane tape. Do not let two layers of tracing paper
overlap. A better alternative than taping the positives to
the screen fabric is to lay a piece of clear glass, Lucite, or
Plexiglas on top of them. One of these must be used if thin
lines or lettering less than _ inches tall is to be printed.
Whichever you use, once you are
sure all positives are in place and
flat against the fabric, you are
ready to expose the screen.
Another way of producing positives is through copy
machines that have the capability of reproducing very
opaquely on film or acetate, tracing paper, etc. In order to
satisfactorily produce a positive using a copy machine, the
following conditions must be met:
1. Black & White line work
2. Must be opaque photographic print
3. Must have high contrast. • 1.800.898.7224
Speedball® Screen Printing Instruction Booklet
N O T E : Photo Emulsion should not be left in the screen
indefinitely unless a permanent stencil is wanted. It should
be washed out as soon as the run is completed. See Cleanup Instructions.
S P E E D B A L L® S C R E E N P R I N T I N G S Y S T E M
Recommended Exposure Chart
150-Watt Bulb, Clear Incandescent
Screen Size
8” x 10”
10” x 14”
12” x 18”
16” x 20”
18” x 20”
150W Bulb Height
Exposure time
45 minutes
45 minutes
1 hr. 14 minutes
1 hr. 32 minutes
1 hr. 32 minutes
BBA No. 1 Photoflood (250 Watt)
Screen Size
8” x 10”
10” x 14”
12” x 18”
16” x 20”
18” x 20”
Lamp Height
Exposure time
P L E A S E N O T E : This chart has been prepared using an aluminum foil pie-plate reflector as indicated in our instructions. More sophisticated light sources, reflectors and
equipment can be used. However, as any variable is
changed, you will have to adjust the exposure times and
distances. This will require experimentation to obtain proper results.
Step G
Apply a forceful spray of water (body temperature) to both
sides of the screen. D O N O T U S E H O T W A T E R .
Concentrate this spray on the light images on the topside
of the screen. After a few minutes, these areas will become
“open”. Continue spraying until all unwanted emulsion is
gone. Perform final spraying with cold water.
Once you have completely washed the screen, let it dry
thoroughly in a level flat position.
Hold the dry frame to the light and check for pinholes.
These can be covered with Speedball® Screen Filler or
pieces of masking tape stuck to the bottom of the screen.
If Screen Filler is used, let the screen dry again.
Speedball® Screen Printing Instruction Booklet
Step A – Preparations
Attach your screen frame to the base by interesting the
hinge pins. For off-contact printing tape a penny or nickel
to each of the four corners on the underside of the screen.
Place a sheet of your printing paper under the screen and
position it as it is to be printed. Allow for margins. When
you are certain that the paper is in the correct position, lift
the screen gently and mark where each edge of the paper
should be placed.
Cut three pieces of cardboard about 1” x 2” and use
these for registration guides.
Place these next to the lines
you drew on the base so you
can correctly locate each
sheet to be printed.
These guides should
be fastened securely
with tape or rubber cement. Good guides are particularly
important if you intend to print more than one color on any
Step B – Selecting Inks for Printing on Paper
Water Soluble Inks
Art prints require porous-surface papers of high quality. We
recommend 100% rag or heavy paper for best results. For
most other printing applications, construction paper, drawing paper, charcoal paper, pastel paper, most board items
(except railroad board) and cover stock (especially good for
greeting cards) will work well. Ink remains water-soluble
after drying. • 1.800.898.7224
Avoid slick coated, high gloss papers or vinyl or plastic
coated papers.
Stir the ink completely until you achieve a “buttery” or
“creamy” consistency. If too thick, add one or two drops of
water or Speedball® Water Soluble Transparent Extender
Base. Mix thoroughly. Colors may be intermixed.
Speedball® Water Soluble Transparent Extender Base may
be used to make the colors more transparent.
Fine art prints require smooth matte finish, medium or
heavy weight papers. To overcome buckling caused by
water penetration, after each color run is dry, place a flat
weight on stacked prints. This will cause them to dry flat
and is especially important for good color registration.
These water-based acrylic inks dry water resistant.
To achieve transparency or economy, Speedball® Extender
Base (preferred) or Transparent Base may be added. Never
add more than 10–15% Transparent Base. Do not allow ink
to dry in screen.
For most other printing applications like posters, greeting
cards, book covers, etc., 20# weight and thicker cover
stock paper is recommended. Avoid slick coated, high gloss
papers or vinyl or plastic coated papers.
Step C – Printing on Paper
Spoon the ink across the end of the screen nearest to you.
With the screen lifted slightly from the base, apply an even
blanket of ink onto the print area. Be sure to use an easy,
smooth stroke with the squeegee at a slight angle away
from you. This is the flood stroke. Drop the screen onto
your paper. Lift the squeegee over the ridge of the ink and
make the print stroke by pulling towards yourself. Keep the
squeegee at a 45° angle with enough pressure to scrape
the ink from the screen. Lift the screen from the print,
make the flood stroke, set the kick leg, remove the print
and put it to dry on your rack or line. Insert new paper,
release the kick leg and repeat the process.
Sharp clear prints can be produced provided you maintain
an adequate quantity of ink on the screen, and use the
flood stroke but sparingly. For more detailed images avoid
the flood stroke, and maintain adequate and even pressure
on the squeegee during print stroke.
Step D – Clean up
After you have made your prints, remove any remaining ink
in the screen. This ink can be saved if you wish. Detach the
frame from the base (don’t lose the hinge pins). SEE SECTION ON CLEAN-UP.
Stir the ink completely until you achieve a “buttery” or
“creamy” consistency. If too thick, add one or two drops of
water or Speedball® Acrylic Extender Base Speedball®
Acrylic Transparent Base. Mix thoroughly.
Step B – Alternative
Selecting inks for printing on non-paper surfaces.
WATER SOLUBLE INKS – These can be used on wood or
masonite if first coated with an acrylic emulsion base coat
such as Speedball® Gesso. To achieve water-resistance,
use an acrylic, a spray fixative or a solvent-based varnish
as a topcoat.
FABRIC INKS – These can be used on almost any fabric that
can be subjected to a hot iron (275°-375°F). Do not use on
non-porous fabrics such as nylon.
ACRYLIC INKS – These inks can also be used on wood,
masonite and many coated surfaces. Always pre-test
before using. • 1.800.898.7224
For the most part, screen printing on fabric is the same as
printing on paper. Use only fabrics that can be subjected to
temperatures of at least 275°-375° F. Do not use on nonporous fabrics such as nylon. Pre-test all fabrics. Fabrics
with sizing must be washed prior to printing. This will
assure proper adhesion of the fabric ink to the fabric.
Five Important Notes:
1. The screen frame is usually detached from the base
and used alone. Usually two (2) people should work on
the printing process – one holding the screen frame
tightly against the fabric, and the other doing the printing.
2. On articles like T-shirts, a piece of foamboard,
cardboard or paper must be put inside each garment to
act as a barrier.
3. To improve the lubricity (slipperiness) of the ink, you
may add the Transparent Base. To slow drying or to
prevent screen clogging, add the Retarder Base
(1-2 tbs. to 8 oz. of ink).
Speedball® Screen Printing Instruction Booklet
4. Wash-up of screens and tools must be done
immediately after use. If they are allowed to dry on
your screen or tools, they are difficult or impossible
to remove.
5. After the fabric ink dries on the fabric, set a household
iron at the highest dry heat (no steam) that will not
scorch the fabric and with a cloth or paper between the
iron and printed material, iron on each side for 3–5
minutes. This will make them withstand repeated washings.
P R O D U C T I O N R U N S. If inadequate wash fastness occurs,
the print needs to be heat set longer.
Multi-color signs can be achieved easily by making one
screen with the entire message on it. Prepare the screen by
any method you prefer. Once the screen is ready, simply
block the words you do not want to print with your first
color by putting masking tape or paper on the bottom side
of the screen fabric.
After you have made your first run of prints, wash the ink
from the screen and let it dry. Follow this by blocking out
the words you just printed and unblocking words you want
to print with your second run of color. After you have made
this second run, again wash the screen and let it dry.
Continue to repeat this process until you have completed
your multi-color print.
Making multi-color prints of detailed artwork requires the
making of a screen for each color to be printed. These
screens should be prepared before you start to print.
Additional Speedball® frames are available for purchase in
many retail locations. Please check our website for a store near you.
One interesting effect can be made by having a two color
print on overlapping areas. These overlaps can add a third
(darker) value to the print. Speedball® Transparent or
Extender Bases are formulated to enable screen printers to
achieve this.
Registration guides are very important when printing with
more than one color. Details on registration guides are
given in step A on the “Making Prints” section.
Speedball® Screen Printing Instruction Booklet
An organized work area will make clean up easy. Here are
the Recommended procedures:
Use warm water and a soft brush. These inks will remain
water-soluble even after thorough drying.
Wash IMMEDIATELY after the last print is pulled.
Use warm water and a soft brush.
Should ink dry in the screen, spray with Windex, or a similar window cleaner. Rub with a lint-free cloth. When ink is
removed, was with a mix of warm water and dishwasher
detergent using a soft brush. Rinse with warm water.
Drawing Fluid
Wash with cool water.
Screen Filler
Speed Clean is preferable for removing screen filler.
One (1) cup of Arm & Hammer’s Washing Soda dissolved
in (1) gallon of water is also suitable.
Instructions are:
A. Apply to both sides with a paintbrush. Scrub with a
nylon bristle brush.
B. Apply again to both sides. Let stand in a horizontal position for three to five minutes.
C. Scrub with a nylon bristle brush while spraying with a
forceful stream of hot water.
TM • 1.800.898.7224
Photo Emulsion
Photo Emulsion Remover Method:
Be certain all the ink has been removed from the screen
fabric. Apply SPEEDBALL Photo Emulsion Remover liberally to both sides of the stencil using a paintbrush.
Immediately scrub both sides of the stencil with a dry nylon
bristle brush. Again, apply SPEEDBALL Photo Emulsion
Remover liberally to both sides of the stencil. Keep the
screen in a horizontal position for three (3) minutes. Scrub
both sides with the nylon bristle brush and flush with a hard
spray of hot water. Once you have started removing Photo
Emulsion you must not let the screen dry until completely
Too much Photo Emulsion washed out of screen after
Possible scenarios:
1. Improper mixing of emulsion and sensitizer.
2. Underexposure.
3. Tracing paper or film not sufficiently transparent.
4. Washout temperature was too high (should be
lukewarm, or at body temperature).
5. Screen not dry before coating.
6. Screen not dry before exposure.
Some small details on Photo Emulsion screen did not
wash out completely.
Possible scenarios:
1. See relevant “Possible scenarios” under “Photo
Emulsion will not wash out to create a stencil”.
2. Failure to use a black, non-reflective background
under the screen during exposure.
S o l u t i o n : Using a more intense light source, such as a BBA
No. 1 Photoflood, will reduce the require exposure time and
resultant light bounce-back. This will improve detail
Drawing Fluid, Screen Filler or Photo Emulsion will
not adhere to screen.
Possible scenarios:
1. Screen fabric may be dirty.
2. Screen may have been used with solvent-based
materials or the sizing may not have completely
washed out of the screen fabric.
S o l u t i o n : Scrub with a soft bristle brush and a
dishwasher powder/water solution. Rinse well.
Inks drying in screen.
1. Use the flood stroke technique given in the
2. Keep squeegees sharpened.
3. For the Acrylic Screen Inks and Fabric Inks, mix with
5–10% Retarder Base.
4. Use a couple of humidifiers or vaporizers in the
printing area.
Photo Emulsion will not wash out to create a stencil.
Possible scenarios:
1. Artwork not prepared with a visually or photo
graphically opaque material.
2. Heat, as well as light, will set the photo emulsion.
There must not be any heat build-up (above 150° F) on
the stencil during exposure.
3. More than 12 hours (at 70° F) exposed before the
sensitized screen was exposed.
4. The sensitized screen was exposed to too much
light or heat before exposure to artwork.
5. Overexposure. The instructions list exposure times and
heights for a “disposable foil pie tin” reflector. More
efficient reflectors will require a higher bulb height
and/or less exposure time.
6. Artwork did not make proper contact with screen.
7. Incomplete washout.
Textile ink prints not opaque enough.
1. Use a coarser screen fabric.
2. Make multiple passes.
3. Use a rounded squeegee.
4. Use a soft base under the fabric to be printed.
5. Use a hair dryer to flush dry the print immediate
after printing and then reprint overtop in exact register. • 1.800.898.7224
Speedball® Screen Printing Instruction Booklet
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