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.
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.
Pour a well of ink across the top of the screen, being generous enough to ensure 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. Holding the screen down with one hand, firmly pull the squeegee and ink towards you, all the way to the bottom of the screen.
Finish with a scooping motion to keep the ink on the squeegee and lay it down on your ink mat.
Lift the screen to reveal your print. Try to do this in one smooth motion.
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 to paper inks and cause them to smudge or may pick up wet ink on fabric and paper and make a ghost print next time to 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 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. Some inks may stain the screen, but 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.
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.