screenprinting header


Screenprinting is far from a one step art form, and it’s a learning process. If you’re like me, you will probably mess up and mess up and mess up again and break the screen. Just don’t break the frame, since you can reuse it!


I’ve seen several ways of doing this, and several people who swear their way is the best. Here’s what’s worked best for me.

Start with 3 staples on each side, working on the opposite side after – so if you start with the right hand side then do the left, and if you do the top do the bottom next.

If you are unable to hold the screen taunt while using the stapler, you may want to ask for an extra hand or two. You need the screen to be tight enough, or else the rest of the process may not work.

Cut off excess screen, hammer down any loose staples, then tape around the sides of the screen.

For many people, this is the most difficult stage. So relax; but there’s lots more to do…


You want to use a place that you’re okay getting messy.

Using a plastic squeegie, scoop up some of the emulsion fluid and put it on the outside of the screen (the side where the screen goes to the end of the frame) and scrape so it covers the entire screen.

Flip and scrape the other side, then flip and scrape the side you started on. Repeat this process until most but not all of the fluid is removed. How much is too much? Like I said; it’s a learning process.


Dry the screen in the darkroom. You may want to dry it overnight on a flat surface, so you wont run the risk of having any run lines from the emulsion. If you’re in a rush you can try using a fan, flipping the screen after 20 minutes so each side gets evenly dry.


If you haven’t done this yet, you can spend the drying time to get your design printed. You need to have transparency paper, which is that clear plastic stuff teachers use for overheads (or at least what they used back when I was in school)


Put the design you want to use on the middle of the light table, where you can see the tube, with the design reading the way you want it to look (so *don’t* do it mirrored) and put the screen on top.

If your screen has any run lines or slight tears you may want to position it so the design does not overlap over the inconsistencies.

Cover the screen with a bunch of heavy books to hold it down. Cover the table with a tarp and flip on the switch… Depending on your design and thickness of the emulsion on your screen, it may take a bit longer or less. I leave it on for about 8 minutes.


Using cool water, spray the screen until you can see the design come through. Be patient, as this will take a while. Resist using hot water and if you choose to rub the design (some people find this helps) be gentle.

When the design shows through clearly, put it aside to dry. If you want, you can use a fan to speed up the process.


Make some prints! To push the paint through, use a plastic squeegie (not the one you used for the emulsion) If you don’t have one, cut a portion of a yogurt cup and use that. The flatter the surface of the scraper, the better the outcome of your design.

Put a tiny amount of paint on at the edge of your design and scrape it across. Don’t do this a bunch of times, or your design will look blotchy. How many times you need to do it to have a crisp design with the whole image printed varies, so try it out to see for each different print.

You may want to experiment using multiple colours. Use tape to cover the parts of your design you don’t want painted. You need to rinse the screen and let it dry between colours. You can do multiple layers with different colours to give a 3D look, or you can put colours like red and yellow on either side and have them mix in the middle to make an ombre look.


Be kind to your screen! Clean it after each use and it will last longer.



If you live in Montreal check out St Emilie Skillshare. Toronto has occasional clinics at Sketch.

Do you know of any cool community place to do screenprinting?

– UPcycling Phoenix

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