My journey through screen printing - (ongoing)

This is a cross post, as I have also posted it on forums.

Alright, so I thought I'd do a slightly different thread for my process. I'm going to be updating this thread as I go along. Kind of like a my start with screenprinting journal.

May 11th, 2006 - Most of the supplies arrive.

Today a huge chunk of my supplies have arrived. This entails

From Performance Screenprinting - $168.91 + shipping
- 1 Qt SEX Emulsion at 50% off
- 1 Hose (not pictured)
- 3 spray bottles
- 1 Gallon Reclaimer
- 1 Gallon Degreaser
- 1 Gallon Screen Wash
- 2 Screen Brushes
- 2 Rolls of 3" tape
- 1 Gallon Blockout
- 5 one quart buckets to mix/store ink
- Some ink scoops

From Victory Factory - $167.81 (shipped)
- 1 230 Mesh Al 25x36" screen
- 1 110 Mesh Al 25x36" screen
- 1 20" Squeege
- 1 Qt Silver Metallic Plastisol Ink
- 1 pair of Hinges
- Some of those little yellow applicators
- 1 20" Scoop coater

From French Paper Co. - $58.32 (shipped)
- 100 sheets of 19x26" Smart White 110 Cover

I'm still waiting on single quarts of Process CMYK + White + Silver acrylic inks from Diesel Fuel which should ship tomorrow I'm told ($115 or so shipped). I'm also waiting on 100 13x19" inkjet films from Valley Litho ($100 + shipping).

I already have a 20x20" screen from a previous dive into the shallow end of screen printing. (speedball emulsion nightmares and whatnot. nothing exciting came out of it but I loved it. I coated the entire screen with a credit card). As well as a Halogen work lamp which I may pick up a second one to expose these rather large screens.

Sunday the plans are to run to Lowe's and pick up the supplies to build a vacuum table. I'll be documenting that whole process as well. That's all for now, I know the threads not too exciting right now, but hopefully it will be helpful to someone starting out in the future. Especially when I get to the building and printing parts. So with all of that, I leave you with a photo and a request for any last minute tips/suggestions (ie - did I forget to buy anything?)

May 19th, 2006
This sucks! I wanted to edit my original post so everything would be in one place, but no love. So today I got a goodbit done (with help from my room mates). Bought the supplies for the vacuum table and chopped it all down. Here's some shots.

First we have our big sheet of plywood on the back deck to chop it in half so we could fit it in the car to take to my room mates shop. Also in this picture you can see the room mate who just chilled out all day (kyle) as well as an 80's Honda Shadow, a 1980 Vespa PX125, and a 1964 Vespa GL (mine).

Here we have the helpful room mate (ian) cutting down the plywood so we could take it to his schools sculpture shop.

Ze board is cut.

Now we must also cut the smooth top that will be the surface of our table. I forget what this stuff was called, but I think it was something like "tileboard"? It was listed as water resistant and such so I figured it would work. it's less than 1/4" thick and is pretty much masonite.

Once we got to the shop we had this amazingly wonderful saw to cut with.

These pieces will go inside the vacuum table to help support and keep the table from warping over time (I hope). These were cut on a band saw.

Here we have 2 pieces of 40x40" 5/8" plywood and one piece of 40x40" tileboard. As well as 2 3x40" 5/8" plywood pieces and 2 3x37" 5/8" plywood pieces. We didn't have our measurements written down and the 3x37" pieces of plywood will have to be trimmed down to 3x31" or so. It will be more clear why once I post process pics for tomorrows work.

Here you can see me applying contact cement to the tileboard. I had already applied contact cement to the top piece of plywood at this point.

After applying contact cement to both the plywood and the tileboard, I stuck them together and then stacked every somewhat heavy object I could find on top of the board to sit overnight. (boxes, a computer monitor, a pressure washer, gallons of screenprinting cleaning chemicals, etc). The cat hopped in the picture by his own free will.

Alright, so... here's the running tab of supplies and costs from today.

4x8' piece of 5/8" plywood = $14.85
4x8' piece of tileboard = $10.97
2.5 Gallon 2HP Wet Dry Shop Vac = $29.98 (not pictured)
3" Chip Brush (for contact cement) = $1.34
3/32" 2 Pack Drill Bits = $2.32
Box of 1&1/4" Drywall Screws = $4.87
4 Oz of Elmers Carpenters Wood Glue = $1.68
10 Oz of Silicone Caulk or something = $4.97
Contact Cement = $4.48

After tax and everything the total came out to roughly $80. Time invested so far not counting driving around is probably close to two hours. Tomorrow I will be drilling the holes into the table top and assembling the rest of the table. Final vacuum hole space is planned to be 36x36". Alright, sleep for now and more work tomorrow. Hooray!

May 20th, 2006 - Drilling a plenty.

So today all I got done was drilling an insane amount of holes into the table. Over 1000 holes creating a 34x34" space. Tomorrow is assembly of table and first print if everything dries in time.

I just did all the shooting at the end, but you get the idea. Lay down your 1 inch grid and start drilling.

Then peel the paper grid away and sweep off all the dust.

tomorrow we should at least have some shots of vacuum table assembly + completion.

ps - for those wondering, Yes on part of the table the holes for the vac are alternating. I started out doing this, but since I didn't have a 1/2 inch grid I had to estimate half way between the two lines on every other row of holes. So after doing that for a bit I switched to straight up. I don't see either as having a benefit over the other. So yeah that's the reason for that.

May 21st, 2006 - Vacuum table = finished.

So I finished the vacuum table. I took the best shots I could working on it all day by myself, but you get the idea.

First I took my long pieces of plywood and glued/screwed them down onto the backside of my table top.

Next I laid all of my little tiny pieces of plywood out on the backside of my table top.

Then they got glued down to that motha.

Ok, I didn't take a shot of the bottom of the table, but here's what happened between the last shot and this one. After gluing down the little pieces, I think quickly applied wood glue to the tops of the little pieces as well as to the tops of my long pieces of ply that ran around the edges of the table. Then I put the bottom of the table down on top of that and put screws in around the edges. My board was fairly warped so there are loooots of screws in the bottom around the edges.

I then put wood glue along the edges to fill in some cracks due to the warped boards. I ran out of wood glue after doing this on side. So I ended up putting black caulk all over the sides which I bought to help plug the hole where the vacuum nozzle goes.

Then I screwed my clamps on to the table

Table with screen down

Table with screen up

May 21, 2006 - Coating the screen

Alright, so I got the vac table built and now its time to screen print. I would like to start with a disclaimer that has multiple parts...
1) sorry for the blurry photos as the lighting was low.

2) this was my first time coating a screen with a scoop coater. I learned that I need more light next time because coating the second side of the screen I couldn't tell when the emulsion was touching the screen because the whole scoop coater was pink after I did one side and the lighting was great enough to see the blob of emulsion moving in the scoop coater.

I also learned that you need to tip the scoop coater upright a lot faster than I did. As you'll see, it ended up dripping over the side after I had pulled away and some precious emulsion made its way to the floor.

3) what I am doing in these photos is probably not the right way to do this process someone else with experience can critique that.

Ok, so here's the pics.

First I poured my emulsion into the scoop coater. I have no clue as to how much was in there, but I'd say I put it at about 1/3 of the way up the sides of the scoop coater. I had plenty left over and had to dump it back into my container.

Next I evened out the emulsion a little in the tray with my knife.

Then I started at the bottom of the screen. I tilted the scoop coater forward and waited for emulsion to be touching the screen all the way across. I then began to pull upward in one smooth movement.

As you can see blurily in this photo, I didn't tip the scoop coater back up straight enough and I spilled some emulsion on the floor that you can see in the shot after this.

I then flipped my screen over and did the same thing. hopefully I got both sides coated well enough. I guess we'll find out when I expose. (see pain in floor from not tilting scoop coater up fast enough.

I then transported my screen upstairs to the bathroom and placed it on some speedball jars to dry via box fan.

That's all for now. I'll be exposing as soon as the screen has had time to dry. I'm going to do a step exposure using a test document I will be creating shortly. This document will have big chunks of color, detail sections, and halftone sections. This way I can see via a broad view how the exposure goes. I plan to do 2" wide strips at 1 minute apart starting at 10 minutes. Exposure will be done via halogen work lamp. more pics soon!

May 22nd, 2006 - Exposure and Washout

Alright, so today I had a chance to expose the screen and wash it out. I did a step exposure starting at 11 minutes and moving at one minute increments until I reached 22 minutes. Each exposure region was 2 inches wide.

So here's the film positive I created. It consists of the word TEST at 72pts. below that I put type in sizes from 12pts down to 6pts. next up is a pair of concentric circles and a star shape. below that are 4 lines. At stroke weights of 2pts, 1pt, .75pt, and .5pt. Then below that is a halftone print of a scooter. I printed it out on 2 sheets of 13x19" transparencies from Valley Litho. I would like to note that on my R1800 the settings that produced working transparencies were to set the paper type to photo quality paper, flip the slider to quality (other end of slider was speed), and changed the color option to black and white only.

Next, I grabbed a whole bunch of black t-shirts and folded them so no designs were showing. then I laid two black shirts face down on top of all of those.

Then I put my screen down on top of the shirts, followed by my transparency (reading backwards), followed by a piece of plexiglass. The plexiglass was a problem for two reasons. One, its just not as sturdy and heavy as glass. Two, it wasn't big enough and produced an under exposed line around where the edge of the plexi was. I plan to buy a bigger piece of real glass this week. I then started exposing by tying my halogen to a broom stick. Hooray for ghetto fabuloustivity!

Here you can see I'm about half way through my step exposure. I've been covering up each area with black matte board with a glass cup on top to hold everything down. The matte board started buckling as it got hot. Out of frame was a small fan blowing across the top of the screen.

Exposing is done and its time to wash out. This is me getting started.

After a few moments we can start to see where things were exposed.

Its not so much the pressure washer, but rather the sound of the water slapping against the screen that makes a horrible noise. Seeing as how it was kind of late we decided that the neighbors didn't need a reason to hate us more so we took the pressure washer inside and continued to rinse the screen out in the tub.

Here we're pretty much done.

So the results are in and I believe that somewhere around 17 minutes at 20" away or so is where my sweet spot exposure lies. I was suprised to see that the non-detailed areas washed out great in all exposure ranges, but the fine lines and small type didn't seem to work so well in every instance. I'm going to wash, reclaim, and degrease the screen tomorrow and go for a real exposure. Wish me luck!

May 25th, 2006
So here's my first print run on the setup.

First I have the screen down on the table. A halftone image of my friend Jess on a scooter.

Next we have the screen up and me in the process of registering. I have the transparency taped to a piece of paper so I can register properly. At this point I have the transparency flipped off to the side so I can tape better. somehow it got off while I was taping it down and I had to register a second time. The second time it was pretty much dead on.

A close up of me putting down two pieces of tape in each place to make a 3-point registration system. This system works great!

Its kinda hard to see, but I am pushing down on the screen to see if my screen is lining up with the transparency below. This is how I found out where to place the tape in the previous two shots.

Down goes the black speedball ink from Diesel Fuel. Great guys and great products. Only sucky part is it takes ink a week to get from Oregon to Georgia.

We're about to do the first print. Squeege down!

Going (How's the angle on the squeege?) I have to reach out to reach the back of the table so to make the pull even I just kinda lean forward and step backwards.

Sorry its kinda blurry, but here's the flood stroke.

Prints laying all over the kitchen.

Prints moved back to the spare room that I was printing in.

This was either the first or second print that came out of the run.the amount of ink is great, but it has the haloing or whatever towards the top and bottom on the left side (this part was closest to the clamps and was furthest off contact. If you notice on the other end there's no haloing because the screen was close enough to the table)

This was towards the end of the run and everything started to get darker.

This was just before I stopped. Everything was farrrr too dark. Detail was being lost to the darkness!

So that's my first print run. I'll be overlaying silver metallic on top of these black and white halftone photos next. This is 1 poster from a series of 4 designs promoting Stella Scooters. Its for a school project.

I think that the haloing can be fixed. I just need to recess the table top which is close to 1/4" thick. This is almost as thick as the bottom part of my clamp. So it would provide off contact, but not a ton. I'll be getting on that soon I guess.

Also for the darkening. I think that perhaps it was caused by my first few prints. We did the first 3 prints and the vacuum wasn't hooked up to the table so they stuck to the screen. So pulling them off probably smeared the ink a little on the bottom side of the screen? I'm not really sure. Anything else that would cause this darkness to come about? Thanks everyone for all the help and support. Hope you're still enjoying the thread. More to come!

--Casey Britt (Music | Business | Personal)