Screen Printing!

So we decided yonks ago to do screen printed bags for our favors.

I wanted the design to be a bit more intricate than a hand cut stencil, which I would normally use, so I had decided to get a screen made.

I found a website by a local artist that made thermofax screens. Similar to an emulsed screen, and I didn’t have to mess around with emulsion and all that stuff.

Like usual, I left it to the last minute to organise this. Annoyingly, the company that made the supplies for thermofax screens, no longer make the materials and the artist could no longer make the screens.


Enter plan B. I found a product “StencilPro” “Eziscreen” at Eckersleys. This is basically a pre-emulsed screen that can be exposed at home. It’s not cheap, but it is fun to play with! And I didn’t need to worry about emulsion.

StencilPro and the printed transparency

To start, I made a design. My preferred design program is Adobe Illustrator.

Wedding favors screen print design

Then you print this out on a transparent film. Using my inkjet printer, it never really dried. I used the tissue paper the transparencies came in to gently blot away some of the excess, but be careful while handling not to smudge. I do wonder how a laser printer would react to the film.

Now’s the fun bit. Exposing the design. Because the “StencilPro” mesh is light sensitive, you need to do this in a dark place. I went into my walk-in-robe, leaving the door open to get the smallest amount of light, so I could see what I was doing. I used a piece of cardboard to sit everything on. On top of the cardboard I placed the mesh, and then the transparency on top of that. I used two bulldog clips to hold it all in place. Be aware though, that this will not expose and an area will wash out from under the area the clips sit. This was not an issue for me, as they were hidden under the frame.

Following the instructions on the packet, I exposed my screen in the sun light for 16 seconds, before curing it in a bucket of water.

Using a paint brush, I gently brushed away the areas which were not exposed, revealing my design. I gently dried it off with a towel. Then let it dry completely for a few minutes.

Using a paint brush to brush away the unexposed areas to revel the design

I attached this to a plastic frame I picked up at the same time as the mesh. I exposed a second one too, and attached it to a cardboard frame, using gaffa tape to seal the cardboard.

Then it was time to print!

I turned my laundry into a screen printing studio! Such an amazing multipurpose space!
Printing the design onto calico drawstring bags

Just for the record, the screen product comes with several small squares to experiment with exposure times before using the full sheets of it. I do suggest using them. My first test exposure didn’t work too well, my second did and I was confident to do the full screen. But I ended up exposing the design a second time, as some of the lines were too fine and weren’t printing so well. So I went back into Illustrator and re-did some of the line work.

Printing with the first screen I made. Some of the lines were too fine for multiple print runs, so I exposed a second screen after thickening some of the lines.
The second print run worked out much much better!

I have 60 of these bags to make over the next week and a half. I’m doing a few everyday, so they will get done! I have blue, red, yellow and purple paint to play with, and a green on the way! These should fit in nicely with our “colourful” theme for our wedding.

And just in case you were wondering why we went with “Wedding Survival Kits” as favors… “Zombie Survival Kits” are one of Guys favorite things to make for friends and family for Christmas, so this was an extension on his love of making survival kits 🙂

I hope you have a creative week!