Silk Screening Overview

4 Sep

I did a lot of screening through the years for multiple copies of the same sign, It was much faster and they were all identical. When I first started, I really did it the hard way compared to the methods used today.

I used a lacquer based film, which was two layers, one was just a backing and the front green film was vapor thin it seemed. Ah it was thicker than that, but really thin. It was also transparent, so I would hand draw my pattern and put it underneath the film. Then I would start the pains taking process of cutting out the letters or logo with a sharp point xacto knife. I would remove the part where I wanted the screening ink to go, whether it be positive or negative copy.

I goofed up often and had to patch or redo my efforts, but after a while got good with it and had less problems.

After I had my film cut, I would build a 2×2 inch wooden frame to stretch my screen on, lol this was really fun.(yeah right) When the frame was constructed, I would use a double x dynex synthetic mesh cloth and would use a staple gun to fasten it to the frame with 1/4 in staples. I would get it square on one corner, usually the top left corner and put couple of staples in it and take a hammer and drive down tto be tight and be sure to hold . Then I would stretch it over to the other corner and fasten there. After doing all four corners, I would pull the middle of one one side in line with the corners and fasten there, repeating the other sides the same. when on the opposite side from an already fastened side , I would pull it and stretch the waves out as tight as I could. The screen should be very taunt for the screen to work properly

Now the real fun begins and that would be adhering the film to the screen. So what you would do is be on a good smooth flat surface to work. Lay your film down face up or the side you cut, not the back side. I kept it in place from moving by using some masking tape on the edges. Then set your screen down on top of  it and secure it where it will not move on you. Using a special adherring solvent you take a lint free cotton cloth  (I liked baby diapers for this) and dampen it with the solvent and rub it through the screen onto the film, being careful to not saturate. To much and you would dissolve the film and lose your efforts thus far.

After it has dried, usually about 15 or 2o minutes, you could carefully remove the backing. If everything was done correctly, whammo you have your silk screen. But there is couple more things needed to be done before actual useage.    I used a 2 inch wide brown paper tape , one you had to wet the glue side on, kinda like a stamp. Putting it around the film on the back all the way over on the wooden frame. Then on the inside, I did the same and in the corners where mesh met frame i would fold the tape an apply there. This would keep the ink from oozing through and making a mess.

Next step is actually screening now, I mounted a set of hinges on the top of the frame and then onto my table, where it would raise up and down from the bottom end. By putting a small strip of wood on the side that you could fold down to hold the screen up was useful as well. Now take the stock you’re going to print on and lay it underneth your screen, when you have it in registration with the screen, raise the screen up and ron a strip of masking taps along the sides of the stock. This ensures that each time you print a copy and put new stock under it, it will be in the same place. The squeegy you use should be just a little shorter than the inside of the frame, this way you just make one pull, if not you will have to make two pulls and this usually creates bleed under.

After making a few test runs on a slick paper etc. and getting the right consistance in your ink, your ready to turn out some work.

Note, this method will work, but they are easier and better methods for screening now. This was used in the early stages of silk screening.

Coming soon,  I will explain the latest techniques of screening.

Laterz  James Chastain


2 Responses to “Silk Screening Overview”

  1. Pam 09/08/2011 at 20:58 #

    Excellent. Thank you so much for this article about silk screen printing. My husband worked for a sign company the produced silk screened signs exclusively. It took him a long time to learn from ‘scratch,’ but he finally did learn a lot about it. I did not work with him on his projects because the signs that he had to print were too big for me to handle. He even did the layout and design. So, I agree with your last comment; there is a demand for a sign artist!

    • James Chastain 09/09/2011 at 02:35 #

      Hi Pam and thanks for stopping by and saying hello. There is so much a person can learn in the sign industry, there is no end to the possibilities.
      I started in either 59 or 1960 , been so long I don’t remember, and every time i do something I learn something new..I will be posting newer methods of screening soon, plus other tid-bits of info. So please check back often.

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