• Any flat surface can be used to print on, but it does need to be covered with a thin sheet of foam, or blanket, and a sheet of smooth, untextured vinyl. The surface must be firm with slight padding. If your surface is too hard, or too soft, you will not get good prints. You can also make a print pad for yourself by covering a piece of hardboard with thin sponge, felt or carpet underfelt and then with vinyl. You can staple these down on the under side of your board so that the surface is smooth and doesn’t movewhile you print.
  • Place your screen down on your fabric where you want your first print. Spoon some ink (I call it ink, but its also called fabric paint) along the farthest from you inner edge of your screen.
  • Place your squeegee on the far side of the ink, so that the rubber blade of the squeegee is flush with the screen edge and pull the ink towards you with firm pressure. Repeat this process by picking up the ink that is now on the inner edge of the screen closest to you with the squeegee, and depositing it back to the far inner side of the screen, and pull the ink once more towards you. Place the squeegee down on newspaper close to you, and slowly peel the screen off the fabric. The angle that you are holding the squeegee at is very important for successful printing. A conventional screen printing squeegee must be held at 45 degrees, whereas a tiling squeegee such as the one I am using, must be held at 90 degrees. The number of times that you pull the squeegee over the mesh depends on afew things – the thickness of the fabric that you are printing on, the coarseness of the mesh, the consistency of the ink, the intricacy of your design, and the squeegee. So take a few test prints on sample pieces of the fabric, before you start printing on the main piece. If you are not getting successful prints, it could be that the angle of your squeegee pulling is not correct.
  • Inks (fabric paints) come in two ‘kinds’ – transparent and opaque. The transparent colours are for printing on white or cream fabrics. The opaque colours are for dark fabrics, or if you are printing on top of a colour that you’ve already printed. The opaque colours are harder to print with as they are thicker and tend to block the screen quickly. To start with, use the transparent colours to master your technique before trying the opaque colours,
  • If you find that as you print, your design is not printing in some areas – it may mean that your screen is getting blocked ie the ink is drying in the holes of the mesh. You need to wash your screen, making sure you get all the ink out, and wait for it to dry before printing again with it.
  • I like to wash out my screens with a hosepipe and some dishwashing liquid. You can also use a washing up brush. Don’t worry if the mesh still looks stained after you’ve washed and scrubbed the screen. The inks do stain the mesh which wont affect your printing. If the screen is blocked however, then your subsequent printing will be affected.
  • To make your prints colour fast, you need to cure the fabric. You can put some brown paper over your prints and iron them on a hot setting for a few minutes.
  • Fabrics often come with all sorts of starches and finishes to make them look good. These can interfere with the inks – either by making the inks bleed and so the edges of the print gets fuzzy, or by making the print not last long – it starts to fade after a few washes. Test your fabrics before starting your project to see if you need to wash it before printing.
  • Remember that screenprinting is actually very easy – but, like any new skill, it takes practice.
  • You can screenprint on many different surfaces – I also screenprint on blank newsprint paper to make my own wrapping paper, and on wood which I first sand and apply a white pva before I start printing. For both these surfaces I use the textile inks and it works beautifully. Experiment, have fun and enjoy all the compliments that will be flowing your way.