Screen Printing using a Paper Stencil

First prepare the screen by washing it with detergent and rinsing it to making sure it is thoroughly clean and soap free. Allow to dry.

Use Masking Tape along the sides of the frame so that half the width of the tape overlaps onto the screen mesh and the other half runs the length of the screen. Do the same on the underneath. This will help to maintain a tight screen and prevent inks from leaking under the frame during printing.

The fastest, simplest method of creating a stencil for your screen is with paper. This method is good for creating uncomplicated designs with basic shapes or patterns. More complex designs can be created using different techniques such as the Screen Filler Method.

Making the Stencil

Grease-proof paper, with the shiny side facing upwards, is great for making a strong paper stencil. The paper can be cut with scissors, a craft knife or torn to create textured edges. Using the ‘paper chain’ technique you can repeat a design across the paper. For your stencil you can use the cut out or the remaining paper.

Screen Printing with Paper

Turn your frame over with the mesh side (known as the substrate side) facing upward. Place your stencil on the mesh, remembering that the design needs to be in reverse, especially when printing text! Tape the stencil in place.  If the stencil is smaller than the area of the screen mesh, place tape over the exposed mesh. Overlapping the tape will ensure that the ink will not pass through any of the gaps.

Preparing the Screen & Printing the Image

Lay out your fabric or paper and place the frame, mesh side down, so that the stencil is over the area that will be printed. You stencil should now be sandwiched between the screen mesh and the fabric, with the ink well side of the frame facing upward. Remember that if you are printing a t-shirt you need to place a piece of cardboard or plastic sheeting between the front and back of the t-shirt to stop inks from seeping through.

Stand with the short side of the frame in front of you.

Flood stroke screen printing

i) Lift it slightly at one end with the other end still touching the work surface (you may find it helpful to prop up the raised end). ii) Spoon or pour a bead of ink across the mesh at the raised end of the screen. iii) Place the squeegee between the frame edge and the ink and iv) sweep the ink across the screen mesh towards you, ensuring an even coverage. This is the flood stroke.

Replace the screen flat against the fabric. Make the print stroke by pushing the squeegee back across the screen and over the stencil. Keep the squeegee at a 30-45° angle with enough pressure to pull the ink through the mesh.

Lift up the screen to reveal the printed image!

Generally 10 – 15 prints can be satisfactorily produced using this method.

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