Mini Screens are fabulous for printing on paper or fabric. They’re small and easy to manoeuvre, making them ideal for repeating patterns on wrapping paper, give wraps or textile projects and just the right size for personalised greetings cards and labels.

Slamseys Mini Screens are made with a digital screen maker, which allows for fine, detailed images or big blocks of colour. These are similar to the old fashioned Thermofax screens.

Screen print pattern in blue

SETTING UP YOUR PRINT SPACE

Make sure your work area is clean and uncluttered. The kitchen table or desk will make a good print surface for printing on paper, but if you’re printing on fabric, you will need to place something protective on your table to prevent ink seeping through. You can also pad your surface with cardboard, magazines or a yoga mat for a softer surface. Read Finding Space at Home for Printmaking for more tips on setting up your printmaking area.

Fabric printing tip – I like to place an old piece of fabric underneath my printing fabric to catch any bleed through. It becomes a mishmash of print and colour.

GATHER YOUR EQUIPMENT

Have all of your fabric or paper ready to print on, and keep it out of the way from dirty fingers and ink spills. Fabric should be washed and ironed before use.

Make sure you’ve got your screen(s) and squeegees ready. You can buy a squeegee with your screen, or make your own from cardboard and craft foam, or use an old credit card.

If you’re printing onto paper, you’ll need screen printing inks ready to use. In class, we use acrylic and a screen printing medium, but you can also purchase specially formulated screen printing inks. If you’re printing onto fabric, you need to use a special fabric printing ink so that you can wash the fabric without fading. I recommend Permaset Aqua, as it’s an eco-friendly, waterbased ink that washes off the screen with water, but will stay put on your fabric. You can buy this from Slamseys.

It’s handy to have an ink mat to hand, so that you can keep your inky squeegee and bottles of ink safely in one place.

PRINTING YOUR SCREEN

Lay your paper or fabric flat on your work surface. Choose where you want your first print to be and position your screen with the ‘this side up’ facing up. If you use the screen the wrong way round, you can damage the delicate film on the back of the screen that holds the design.

Pouring ink onto the Mini Screen

Pour a well of ink across the top of the screen, ensuring there is enough ink to cover the whole of the screen. Designs with small and fine lines will use less ink than ones with big blocks of colour. If in doubt, make a test print to get used to the right amount of ink.

Place the squeegee behind the well of ink.

You should hold the squeegee closer to 90 degrees than 45 degrees. If your squeegee is flatter, more ink will be pushed through the screen and up the squeegee towards your fingers. You’ll need to tap it off before your next print. If the squeegee is more upright, less ink will be pushed through the screen. Play around with the angles until you find the right balance for your printing project.

Holding the screen down with one hand, firmly pull the squeegee and ink towards you, all the way to the bottom of the screen.

The speed and pressure you use with the squeegee will influence your print: Slower and firmer will result in more ink being pushed through the screen, and may mean some finer details are lost. Quicker and lighter will result in less ink being pushed through and can lead to a patchy print. Different inks, fabrics and papers will each require differing speeds and pressure.

Mini Screen with ink pulled across screen and held on squeegee

Finish with a scooping motion to keep the ink on the squeegee and lay it down on your ink mat.

Lifting a Mini Screen to reveal the screen print

Lift the screen to reveal your print. Try to do this in one smooth motion.

If you’re printing on a thicker fabric, such as calico or a tote bag, you may need to do more than one pass with the squeegee. To do this, bring the squeegee down as usual the first time, and then without moving the screen, lift the squeegee straight back to the top of the screen and repeat. Some designs/inks/fabrics may require up to 3 passes of the squeegee.

You can now keep placing the screen down to continue printing your design.

Be careful not to place the screen on wet ink, as it may stick or smudge your print or may pick up wet ink and make a ghost print next time you lay it down. It’s easier to leave a gap and come back once the ink is dry to fill in.

WASHING THE SCREEN

As soon as you have finished printing the screen, it’s important to get it washed straight away, even if you’re just pausing for a short while.

Remove any excess ink on the screen with a palette knife or spoon and return it to your ink bottle.

Run your screen under warm water and use a small soft sponge to lightly scrub the screen. Please don’t use detergents or anything abrasive to clean the screen as this can cause permanent damage. It’s important to make sure you’ve washed out all of the ink, as once ink dries in the screen it is will permanently damage it, although some inks may stain the screen.

Leave the screen standing propped up to drip dry or lightly pat it with an old towel to dry. Don’t use paper towels. The screen should be completely dry before you next print with it as any residue water can interfere with your printing inks.