I belong to a running club with members that are all over the country. One of the members has a nephew that was diagnosed with leukemia. Our club had already been involved with a couple efforts to raise money for the family. I suggested that we have an auction at our annual pasta party to raise money. The officers and board members agreed that this would be a good idea. I decided I would go ahead and make some T-shirts that could be auctioned off. My plan was to make six or eight or even ten different T-shirts, each with a unique design. I started thinking about various sayings within our club, that are used on our message board. And also various inside jokes. And even other more generic running type things that people would find interesting. I started brainstorming, coming up with different ideas and writing them in a text document. When I came up with various ideas, I started working on the artwork. I didn’t have a whole a lot time to work on the T-shirts, and I’m not a graphic artist, so I kept the designs very simple. Most were mainly text. Much of the artwork was done in Microsoft Word. I could go ahead and print the sayings in large bold fonts in various font styles. Most would fit on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, but a few were larger. A few also integrated graphic elements. Printing one shirt of each design turned out to be a lot of work. I have three screens. I coated all three screens and let them dry overnight. Then I would print the designs on transparencies, and expose each screen one at a time which would take up to about an hour each. Then I would need to wash out the screen, leaving the design. I would have to wait for the screens to dry. Then I was able to print three different T-shirts, and leave those to dry. Then I would reclaim the screens, and have to wait for them to dry, so I could coat them again, and start the whole process over. Some of the designs integrated text and graphics, I didn’t bother integrating them in the original document within Microsoft Word. I simply printed out a couple different transparencies and overlapped them as I was exposing the screens. This was just much easier than trying to mess with with Adobe Photoshop. I printed about 10 different T-shirts. They were a big hit at our annual pasta party, and with my T-shirts and other things that were auctioned, a lot of money was raised for the child’s family. A sad note: the young boy passed away shortly after our party.
When choosing t shirts for screen printing you need to be aware of what the shirt is made of. You need a shirt with a high percentage of cotton. The screen printing inks will bind with the cotton fibers, but not the polyester fibers.
You also want to buy quality t shirts. If you buy name brands, you are probably going to be okay. Buy cheap imports and you will probably regret it. I buy my shirts at Michaels, Joann Fabrics or AC Moore. One of them always seems to have them on sale for cheap. But then I print as a hobby so buying small quantities is fine for me. I have found different styles of shirts at these stores. Regular t-shirts. Tagless t-shirts which tend to be a little expensive and also t-shirts specifically for women. Any of these will work for screen printing. Locally, I found Michaels tends to have to poorest selection, and AC Moore the best.
If you are printing any more than a small handful of shirts, Michaels, Joann Fabrics and AC Moore will not work for you as the quantities of shirts just wont be available, and then you will be paying too much for them. You will need to find a supplier that will sell you the shirts in bulk.
Color is another thing to consider. You need to think about how the color of the ink will go with the color of the shirt. But that really gets into the artist side, and is your choice.
I recently bought some new aluminum frame screen printing screens. But the screens were smaller than my old ones. So the scoop coater I had been using was too big to work with the new screens.
I search around for scoop coaters. I found a great deal on ebay, but hesitated to bid. They were selling the scoop coaters by the inch. And wasn’t quite sure how to bid on them. I should have emailed the seller. The auction ended, and I thought they would relist, but hey never did. They were the same people I bought my screens from. I ended up buying my scoop coater from another place that I found through Google shopping. The company is named Ryonet. With shipping it cost about $24 for a 13 inch scoop coater. The inside dimensions of my screens is actually 14 inches. And I found a thing that recommending buying a scoop coater 2-3 inches smaller than the inside dimension. But I sometimes print stuff that is 12 inches wide. So I will see how this works. I checked it out, and the new scoop coater does fit in the new screens.
Not sure when I will do some more screen printing. I did promise to print a shirt for a friend of mine. So maybe I will try them out on that.
The new scoop coater is a different design than my other scoop coater. The new one actually has two edges I can coat with. So if one becomes damaged, I can use the other. Though I have been using my other scoop coater for a long time, and never damaged the edge on that one.
I have been screen printing for years, and have always used wooden frames. Granted, I am not screen printing day in and day out. I just print when I have something I want to print. So the wooden frames have for to the most part held up. I have several of them that I have used for screen printing t-shirts. The frames themselves have gotten a little loose in the corners. The wood rough from repeatedly getting wet. Also, the cords that hold the screens to the frames came out on two of the three frames. I fixed them by stapling the screen to the frames. The screen has become a little looser over time. And I think the screen started to tear near one of the staples.
I have wanted some aluminum frames. Sure, I would totally love some expensive roller frames, and they would be ridiculous overkill for what I do in screen printing. I wanted just regular aluminum frames.
I saw on eBay a set of 6 aluminum frames with 125 mesh screen for under $100. What a deal. I went ahead and ordered them. I was out of town when they came, but my wife opened them. They had sent me wooden frames. What the heck? I emailed the company who said the warehouse made a mistake. They said send them back. They would give me $10 for return shipping. So I had my wife repack them, and ship them back. Since I was going to be out of town again, I arranged to have the new ones shipped to my work. They showed up quickly, and I took them home. They are welded aluminum frames with the screens pulled tight and glued to the frames. But I noticed they were smaller than my wood frames. Crap. But I looked at the auction information and found I had goofed. I ordered the frame with the outside dimensions that were the side as the inside dimensions of my wooden frames. I think they will still work. I haven’t tried them yet. I also needed to get a new scoop coater since, my other larger one won’t fit in the smaller frames.
I haven’t done any screen printing since last year. But I decided I want to make a few shirts as gifts. So I dug into the closet, and went through my screens. A couple have logos that I might want to print again sometime. But one screen had an image that I printed on a t-shirt for my nephew. So I pulled it out last night. I planned on reclaiming it this morning, but never got around to doing it. But tonight I took the time to clean it. I took it downstairs to the big wash sink in our utility room. I poured some of the stencil remover and brushed it around with a nylon bristle brush. Then I sprayed it with hot water. Very little of the emulsion came off. Well it has been on the screen for a long time! So I put some more stencil remover on the screen, and brushed it around. This time I left it to sit for a few minutes. Then I sprayed it again. This time most of the old emulsion came off. I sprinkled a little detergent on, and scrubbed it. I sprayed the screen again. I left the screen downstairs to dry. Hopefully tomorrow night I will be able to coat the screen.