hello...I'm a screen printer

Today I've got the second post in my 'hello' series.  Last time I brought you the inside track from three awesome buyers.  Today I bring you a peek into the world of a brilliant screen printer Jonna Saarinen.

If you read my interview with Jonna last week you will have seen the totally amazing results you can get from using screen printing.  

So, if you've ever wondered what screen printing actually involves, then read on, as Jonna has been kind enough to share...

(words and photography by Jonna Saarinen)

STEP 1 - Artwork     

The first step in screen printing is to have your paperwork correct, and it has to be black and white, as only black will be strong enough to block the light when it comes to exposing your artwork to the screens. Anything that is black in your artwork, will be colour in the final print, anything that is white will be blocked.

You can have your art work photocopied on to photocopy paper, paint it directly on to tracing paper with anything pigmented enough to block light or get it professionally printed on to acetate, which is my personal favourite, as they will last you a lifetime.

 

jonna saarinen

STEP 2 - Cleaning and coating your screen

If the preparations for your screen are done well, it will make your printing much more straight forward later. If you are using a new screen, its good to give it a good wash with a hose to make sure polyester mesh is clean and screens that have already been exposed will have to have the stencils removed with a stencil removal chemical.

After applying the chemical, leave it for a few minutes before until you see the chemical melting away and then its ready to be blasted off with with a jet wash. 

jonna saarinen

When the screen is clean, let it dry throughly before coating with the photo emulsion. 

jonna saarinen

After you have uplied the coating, its good to ensure its even and scrape off any excess, before leaving the screen dry in a dark place (UV light will harden the coating, and the screen can't be exposed).

STEP 3 - Exposing

After the coating on your screen is dry, it will be exposed to UV light to make the stencil. In proper screen printing studios you have exposing units which will do the job for you sometimes even in seconds!

You place your artwork on the glass on the exposing unit as you wish to print it and place your screen on top before closing the lid and swith on the vacuum that keeps the screen in place. Then you swith on the UV light for as long as required, this totally depends on the exposing unit you are using.

jonna saarinen

After the exposing you will have to wet your screen gently on both sides with water to stop the exposing process. As you keep washing the screen, your images will slowly appear.

jonna saarinen

When your screen is dry, its good to hold it against light to see if there is any small wholes in wrong places on the screens.  If there are these can be blocked with Tipex. Doing this will give you a nice clean print. Afterwards mask off sides of the screen where the mesh meets the aluminium to stop any bleeding, and you are ready to print!

jonna saarinen

STEP 4 - Printing textiles

When printing textiles, its good practise to secure the fabric down with pins. The tighter you pin your fabric the sharper your print will be. If you don't have a proper print table, even having some thick flat cardboard under your fabric will work.

Place you screen on top of your fabric, placing the image on the screen where you want it to be on the fabric. Heavy weights can be used to secure the screen down.

When you screen is in place, spread your ink evenly on top of the screen. Having more ink is better than not having enough as any extra can be scraped off. 

jonna saarinin

Then by using a right size squeegee pull first towards you, and then back again 3 to 4 times, the last pull being one to scrape any excess off.

jonna saarinen

Lift your screen off the fabric straight after.

jonna saarinen

and unless you are printing several items at ones wash it immediately, as leaving the screen will make the inks harden which will block the screen. 

jonna saarinen

Leave to dry.

 (Most fabric inks are cured by heat, for more detailed instructions always read the label to ensure long lasting product life.)

jonna saarinen

STEP 5 - Repeat for each colour

jonna saarinen

jonna saarinen

STEP 6 - admire your finished product.

jonna saarinen