Sunday, April 30, 2017

Screen printing

I love making stencils, but stencil designs are limited in that they have to be one piece. For example you cannot have a stencil top print this shape
because the inside white bits in the leaves would fall out. The white part, which is the stencil, is not one piece.  Stamps do not have this issue, but if you are cutting them out of foam, and gluing them down to make a stamp, lining up all the insides of the leaves, for example, would be tricky.

Another option is to use a screen. Here is my first one. You can see the screen, taped to a cardboard frame in the top of the image, and some patterned paper I made with it at the bottom.
I had the best results screen printing onto a Gelli plate, and printed from there onto paper. The screen suctioned itself onto the Gelli Plate, so there was very little leakage, and I could use the brayer to spread the paint, as there was no longer a need to push hard.

I loved how it worked, so I made some more. These I mounted in mat boards, which I bought in a pack of 5 at with a 50% off coupon; they ended up costing about a dollar each. Here they are, along with prints both on mixed media paper and deli paper.
With the round one, I made a couple of ATC backgrounds printed with gold paint on black paper. I love the crisp image!

If you want to make a screen, you can...
  • Make a screen with your Thermofax machine.
If you happen to have a Thermofax machine you are all set. (That's a link to Julie Balzer's blog post on how it works)
  • Buy a screen from someone on Etsy who has the machine.
Here's a search for thermofax screens on Etsy. There are some pre-made designs and some for which you send them your design and they make the screen for you. They run $12-$20 or so.
  • Do what I did:  Make a screen using heat transfer vinyl on sheer fabric.
A few years ago, Julie Balzer posted a video tutorial for making a screen using iron-on vinyl and sheer fabric.  She used the Scan-n-cut to cut the designs out of the vinyl, but I guess it would not be impossible to do it with an exacto knife.  I also used the Scan-n-cut, following her instructions.

Watch the video to see how to make the screen. Here are the things I did differently:
    • Instead of just duct tape around the screen, I mounted mine in cardboard (and later mat board, which worked better), so that it would be more or less stretched. 
    • Following the process in the video, my screen printed really well on paper if I was ultra careful, which I am not, by nature. But it printed really, really well and without much concern for anything neat or tidy, if I used a brayer to roll the paint through the screen on to a gelli plate, and then printed from there.
If you like Gelli Printing, you should definitely get or make some screens, thermofax or heat transfer vinyl, and give it a try. It's another great way to load your plate with paint. Thanks for looking.


  1. Thank you for sharing so much detailed information. Your design and your choice of colors is simply lovely. I found you via fb - still have to explore your blog.
    Kind greetings from the EU (A) from a retired math-teacher now trying to be creative.

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