November 22, 2017
By McKenzie Lee
I started screen printing a couple of years ago. A friend of mine had just created a beautiful, three-colored poster for his church, and I thought that it would be a thoughtful gesture to screen print the invitation for my sister’s bachelorette party. A bachelorette party, for those of you who may not know, is a party that is thrown for the bride before she gets married. My sister wanted to go all out for her bachelorette party and so she decided to throw a party in Las Vegas. She tasked me with sending out the invitations.
Having just seen how beautiful a screen print could be, and appreciating the time and thought that goes into the process, I decided that I would attempt my first screen print.
The basic steps are as follows:
Step 1: Create an image.
Step 2: Print or draw the image onto a transparency sheet.
Step 3: Paint a screen in emulsion.
Step 4: Place the image on the screen and expose the image.
Step 5: Wash the screen.
Step 6: Print.
Step 7: Clean up.
There are many very talented screen printers who create beautiful, ornately-decorated images that they bring in to screen print. But I am a beginner, so I just create simple pieces. First I found an image of the Las Vegas skyline and then traced it onto a transparency sheet. I made sure to go over the lines a couple of times with a deep black marker, so that the image would be sure to burn into the screen.
And then last year, I decided that I wanted to screen print little sketches of some of my favorite things onto a transparency paper. I sketched giraffes, teapots, jump ropes, bicycles, and other small little images. I then copied those images on to a transparency sheet and brought it to the Community Print Shop. The Community Print Shop has an open shop night each week in which they have more experienced screen printers available to assist other community members.
The Community Print Shop provides the screen covered in emulsion and the exposure unit with a vacuum. I gave them my transparency and they placed it on the screen and then in the exposure unit. I then washed off the screen so that the image I created would fall off of the screen. From there, I was ready to screen print! I took my frame over to a print station, placed fabric or stationary under the screen, and then poured paint on the screen. Using a squeegee, I pulled it over the frame. What was left was a painted image of my initial image!
While I have used screen printing to create postcards and stationary, I also experimented screen printing on fabric. This past Mardi Gras, I screen printed an image of lemons for Lemonade Parade onto fabric. Many people also used screen printing to create a poster and announce an event. Hope you enjoy!