What you need...
- Screen printing kit
- Paper printing inks in 2 colours
- Heavy-weight paper in various colours
- Ready-to-hang frame
Making your stencil - 1 Plan and draw your design onto paper. Remember that when creating a stencil you can’t have shapes floating inside other shapes; you will need a separate stencil for each layer.
2 Make sure your stencil fits the size of the screen. Place your design over a light box or attach it to a window, and transfer (trace) the design onto stencil paper. ONLY use a pencil when tracing on stencil paper. If you use a pen or marker, the ink will bleed onto your fabric.
3 Place the stencil paper on the cutting mat and use the scalpel to cut out your design. When cutting straight lines, it can be handy to use a metal ruler to keep your lines straight. Your stencil is ready to be printed.
Preparation - Iron your fabric well. Some fabrics need to be pre-washed so they become more absorbent, but most fabrics, including calico, cotton and linen, generally don’t need pre-washing. If printing onto wood, corkboard or paper, there is no preparation needed; simply lay it flat on the work surface.
Prepare your screen by sticking packing tape to the front (flat side) of the screen to create a border. This makes space at the top, bottom and sides of the screen and is where the ink will start and finish; we call this the ‘ink well’. You should only attach tape and stencils to the front of your screen – you want to keep the back as smooth and uninterrupted as possible.
Attach your stencil to the front of the screen using two pieces of masking tape. Masking tape is easy to remove when wet, so it will not damage your stencil.
Make sure that the stencil overlaps the frame of tape around your screen. Hold the screen up to the light to make sure there is no exposed mesh other than your design, and adjust the stencil or add more packing tape if needed.
Let's start making! -
1 Draw your design onto paper. We’ve gone with a bold floral design here, although you might be inspired by the graphic wedge of cheese we’ve included in the main photo, just for fun. For inspiration, collect flowers from your garden or look through magazines or photos. Transfer your design onto stencil paper, then cut your stencils. This design has two colours, so you will need two stencils. Prepare the screen and attach the first stencil (the petals) to the front.
2 Get your squeegee and inks ready. Lay your paper on the work surface and place the screen on top. Spread a generous amount of ink above your design and carefully print your first layer. Remember, because you’re printing on paper, you only need two firm pulls – and you don’t need a flood stroke. We suggest doing a few extra prints, so if you mess one up you have backups.
3 You MUST let the first layer air-dry before adding the next one. While you’re waiting for the print to dry, peel off the stencil and wash it, then wash and dry the screen. Attach your second stencil (the circle) to the screen.
4 Once your first layer is dry, print the second stencil in the second colour using two firm pulls. Make sure your print is COMPLETELY dry, then hang it on the wall. Frame it if you like.
Now it's time to clean up! - Carefully use the spatula to scrape all the excess ink back into the ink pot. Remove the stencil and wash off the ink residue. Allow the stencil to air-dry or carefully dry using a hair dryer.
Wash out the screen in running water, making sure you get into all the nooks and crannies. It’s important to wash out your screen reasonably quickly – if you leave it too long, the ink will dry in the screen. Once clean, allow the screen to dry. If you opt to use a hair dryer, take care: if the hair dryer gets too close to the screen mesh, the heat can burn a hole in it. If washing the screen between stencils, make sure the screen is completely dry before using it again.
Either allow your print to air-dry or, if you’re printing on fabric, wood or cork, speed up the process by using a hair dryer. It’s important that you keep the hair dryer moving so nothing burns. You can check if your print is dry by lightly pressing a fingertip onto the printed area. If it’s dry, no ink will appear on your finger (be careful not to smudge the printed area in case it is still wet).
Taken from Print Play by Jessie Wright and Lara Davies (Hardie Grant Books, £12.99). hardiegrant.com