Screen printing your own t-shirts at home is fun, addictive and even profitable. However, traditional screen printing methods are complex, time consuming and require more equipment than you probably have readily available to you at home. PhotoEZ solve all these problems for people looking to screen print at home. PhotoEZ is a screen printing sheet that is ready for exposure and used in less than an hour. You will not need anything extra for this project other than things you already have available to you at home. This article will describe how to create the stencil using PhotoEZ and how to avoid costly mistakes.
Creating the Stencil
1: Print out your design you want to screen print on-to a transparency
2: Place the transparency over the PhotoEZ silk screen sheet
3: Expose the screen to direct sunlight for 50 seconds
4: Soak the screen in water for 25 minutes
5: Rinse sheet removing the emulsion, revealing your design
6: Allow to completely dry before using
Step 1: Print your image out on a transparency.
You will need 8.5 x 11 transparency sheets. Transparency sheets for screen printing can be purchased from any craft store. It will be coated on one side. Make sure you printer will print on the coated side, it keeps the ink in place and prevents smearing. The directions you receive with PhotoEZ sheets say to print with your printer on the High Quality setting. This is not necessary, printing with normal setting works great. I have a HP inkjet printer, and printing the transparency on High Quality setting actually causes horizontal gaps lines which is not good for exposing. You also have the option of printing your image on 88 brightness paper, but if your design is more complicated, with a lot of detail, transparencies work best.
Step 2: Placing the transparency over the PhotoEZ silk screen sheet.
Prepare the screen by removing it from the sunlight proof ziplock bag and peal the plastic off the shiny side. PhotoEZ kits comes with a hard board and plastic covering to make exposing the sheet to the light simple, and to make sure the transparency doesn’t move. Place the PhotoEZ sheet on the board shiny side up, then place the transparency over top. Keep in mind that, when you screen print, the shiny side with be face down, so you should be looking at a reverse image of what you want printed at this point. Place the plastic covering on and clasp is all together. Cover it with the foam sheet to prevent exposing the screen before you can begin timing.
3. Expose the screen to direct sunlight.
Expose your screen to direct sunlight for about 50 seconds. Do not attempt to expose during over cast, or early in the morning or late in the evening. You will under expose the screen and it will be ruined. Don’t leave the screen in direct sunlight for more than 1 minute, or you will over expose the screen and you wont be able to wash out your design. If you have access to fluorescent lighting you can use this instead of sun light. Doing it this way takes a little longer, about 25 minutes, but it has a few benefits. First you can expose anytime during the day you like. Also you have less risk of over exposing the screen, and when it comes time to rinse the design it washes off much easier.
4. Soak screen in water for 30 minutes.
Allow the screen to soak in water for about 30 minutes. you can use a plastic organizational tub for soaking the sheet.
5. Rinse the stencil off in the sink.
A sink sprayer works best for removing all the excess emulsion. If parts are not washing away, use a paint brush and rub the area where the emulsion is not coming off and will come free easily. You may want to put the stencil back in direct sunlight. Placing the stencil back out in the sun allows it to fully expose and it will be more durable. Do this especially if you used fluorescent lighting to expose the screen.
6. Allow to completely dry. You can speed this up by using a hair dryer.
It might should like a lot of steps, but it is easy, and fast. Once you get the hang of it, you will be making stencils in no time and be able to start silk screen printing is less than an hour.