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How Can I Screen Print at Home?

By Edited May 8, 2015 1 2

Forever fascinated by the art of screen printing (and, mildly envious of those who know how to do it), my wife and I embarked on a journey to learn as much as we possibly could about this process. With each visitation to online marketplaces, such as Etsy, our joint-interest and fascination with this process grew even greater and greater over time. To my wife and I, we love how many young and old entrepreneurs alike have not only given large corporations a run for their money within the hand-made business, but, how they have also managed to develop awesome home businesses with a relatively small investment and, of course, a great deal of passion and creativity. There are certainly many success stories out there that are worthy of being emulated.

Like my wife and I, have you ever found yourself checking out the many cool t-shirt products created by these zealous entrepreneurs, and wondered about the t-shirt screen printing process? We definitely have! On many occasions! To put it simply, screen printing is really a method by which you can easily, almost overnight, start producing, printing and selling your very own designs. You can then market these shirts (or whatever you ultimately decide to screen print) in any way you see fit. Ever growing markets online, such as Etsy, are the perfect venue for the zealous entrepreneur to begin selling these products of your creativity and imagination. Talk about freedom!

Screen printing at home isn't as difficult or as far fetched as you might imagine. The cool thing about this business is that it's extremely scale-able That means you can start out very small, and work your way up the business ladder until your operation is huge! Profit is great too, who doesn't need something printed at some point? Screen printing at home is a great start up business, or even just a neat little hobby.

Learn a bit more about screen printing at home in this InfoBarrel article!

Screen Printing At Home
Credit: http://momproductreviews.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/t-shirt-screen-printing.jpg

Screen printing while at home, while easy to get into, does require a certain amount of supplies and equipment. Luckily silk screening supplies are readily available at most art supply stores, and if not there you can find them online in a pinch. Though you may be able to make a quick trip out to a brick-and-mortar craft store like Michaels or Joanne Fabrics, purchasing these supplies and equipment through an online venue, like Amazon, will give you immediate access to previous buyer reviews that you simply will not be able to find at a brick-and-mortar store. With all the equipment and material requirements, however, we can't guarantee that a physical store will actually have them, and, if they do, they may not have higher quality brands. If you do decide to purchase through a physical store, I would highly recommend searching their online websites prior to embarking out on a trip there, just to make sure they have the items and material that I recommend in this InfoBarrel article.

The first thing you'll need when screen printing at home is, you guessed it, screens! These things have aluminum or wooden frames, with a very fine mesh wrapped across. You CAN build these yourself, but you should probably purchase a couple to start out. Don't worry, they are reusable! 

You will need emulsion. Emulsion is a kind of sticky goop that you press into the screens. It is highly photosensitive, so it reacts to UV light and hardens. Silk screening at home requires you to set up your screens yourself, so get your hands dirty! 

You will need a powerful source of UV light. The sun, believe it or not, works well in a jiffy. You can also purchase a UV bulb light, they work too, or you can construct a UV box to harden your emulsion properly.

To screen print at home, you'll need to print off your designs on pieces of transparent paper. You can have these printed off at a print shop, or you can try to do it on your home printer

You'll also need ink, and a squeegee to press the into into the fabric or canvas of your choice.

Some equipment that will make your attempts to silk screen at home a little easier are: a scoop coater, a device used to effectively coat your screens in emulsion without creating a huge mess. A darkroom, which keeps your photosensitive screens safe until they're ready to be exposed. 

Screen Printing At Home: Supplies and Equipment

Screen Printing At Home: Supplies and Equipment
Credit: http://www.screen-printing.co.nz/images/professional%20screen%20printing%20unit.jpg

Ok, so to screen print at home, first you'll gather your silk screening supplies together and have them all ready to go. Next, you'll need to decide on the design you want, and have it transferred to your transparency. You can print this off, or hand draw it with a marker.

Next, look through your silk screening supplies and gather up your emulsion and screens. Use the scoop coater to coat the screen in emulsion, and let it dry (in the dark). Once it's dry, place your transparency over it (or under, depending where your light source is coming from) and let the emulsion be exposed to the light. Everywhere that isn't covered by the ink from the transparency should become rock hard! Wash the screen with warm water, and the unexposed emulsion will come out!

This kind of printing is messy, so make sure you have lots of cleanup stuff available! Look through your silk screening supplies and pick out your ink and squeegee. Place the prepared screen over your canvas, and place a little ink at the top of the screen. Use your squeegee to push the ink into the canvas.

For proper screen printing at home, you may want to design a printing press to hold your screens steady while you print. This will prevent foul-ups.

Let your canvas dry, and you're done! T-shirt screenprinting is just that easy, just make sure you use fabric ink. Any type of appropriate ink will work for other canvases. Make sure to clean all your equipment before you finish!

Screen Printing At Home: How To Print

Screen Printing At Home: How To Print
Credit: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2415/2076039759_df6babd75a.jpg

Screen Printing At Home: Revenue Sources

Approach local bands, friends, companies about doing this type of printing from home for them. Mention to everyone you know that you're a screen printer, and you'll be surprised how much business you end up getting. Many people will willingly decide to utilize someone they are familiar with rather than go through a different faceless entity for their requirements.

You can sell your art in a gallery, or sell your t-shirts online through sites like eBay and Etsy. If you're creative, screen printing from home will be a snap, and you'll make a real living doing it!

As you can certainly see in this InfoBarrel article, in order for your screen printing endeavors to be successful, you must be prepared for at least a reasonable initial investment in the supplies and equipment I had mentioned earlier. Once you obtain them, however, and familiarize yourself with the screen printing process, you will certainly be learning a very valuable trade that is highly sought after and has the potential to become a truly sizable additional revenue source for you and your family.

Good Luck!

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Comments

Apr 17, 2013 11:04pm
eileen
Great article thats for sure and I think you have covered everything pretty well. I bought a persons screen business in the late eighties. And I ran the business from home also. The hardest part of this business is creating the artwork. I am not any good at drawing and to supply all the artwork needed is not easy.
I paid someone to do the artwork for me. Back then you did not have the benefits of all the computer generated lettering either. But I still loved doing it, although I would stress out in case I did not get everything printed up in time.
I did banners and ribbons for the local fairs. Printed T-shirts for clubs, pubs and go-kart clubs. I even printed mens undies for the go-kart club with the logo and had guys model them. It was fun too. I found a photo of this the other day and was going to put it up on facebook with the remember back in Kalgoorlie site. Then thought better of it as the guy might object.
I would say if you can draw and do not get stressed then go for a home business doing this it is fun and you meet lots of people with this. Great article thumbs up
Apr 17, 2013 11:21pm
davwrite
Interesting introduction to home-based screen printing. I used to print tee shirts at home as a small business so can add some advice:
1. To keep your fabric from moving, use spray glue on the surface you are using to spread the fabric over. This will keep it flat and still and yet it will be very easy to peel off.
2. If you plan to add another colour, leave the fabric where it is and use a hot air blower (hair drier or paint stripper will do) to get the ink dry to the touch before adding the next colour.
3. Again, get the ink touch dry before moving your fabric to your heat press (the ink must be properly cured). To make sure it doesn't stick to the heat press use a silicon sheet - non-stick baking paper is a cheap alternative.
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