I worked in the printing industry for eight years and had the privilege to learn all sorts of cool stuff. I worked at an old, old printing operation in Downtown Omaha my first year of college. I did everything from operate auxiliary machines to type out invoices on an actual typewriter. Did I mention it was an old operation? The next seven years I worked at a big corporate print store, where I got to learn everything from how to un-jam a copier, to operating huge 10ft solvent printers and vinyl decal machines. I love paper and I love printing. I even love printing black and white copies of my kids worksheets from my little Canon inkjet printer at home. Holding a fresh stack of copies makes me smile.
One printing method that I have always wanted to learn to do is screen printing. When we got to Chapter 32 of The Story of the World Volume 1, which talks about ancient Chinese block printing, my brain started churning. We had already learned all about block printing (which it talks about in the chapter) during our trip to Jaipur last fall. So I started researching exactly what you need for screen printing and if it was something we could do at home. It turns out there are some expensive equipment and supplies required to do it the pure way, but it also turns out there are some great substitutions.
Most of what we did came from this great Youtube Tutorial.
I managed to do this for even cheaper than the video by making the following substitutions.
1. Because I do not own or wear stockings, my friend gave me an old 'dupatta' (scarf) of hers to use for the screen, so that was free!
2. I used white glue instead of Modge Podge, just add *a tiny* amount of water to make it spread more smoothly.
-Any material that is thin enough to transfer the paint, but not too thin to tear. Our old scarf worked great.
-An embroidery hoop
-A template. I downloaded these worksheets from Education.com, enlarged the character, and printed them out.
-A good permanent marker for outlining the design
-Glue or Modge Podge
-An old plastic card or index card
Step ONE: Prepare the Hoops
I did this in advance for the kids. If your kids are older, they could probably help with this step. You need to make sure the material is as tight and wrinkle-free as possible.
Step TWO: Copy the template onto the "screen"
Step THREE: Fill in the Negative Space
This is the trickiest part, and there are a few things you need to watch out for.
1. Don't paint the glue from the backside, where the screen is touching your surface. When you pull it up, you will be left with a mess. We definitely learned this by experience. Put the glue on the top side, so that the hoop creates a small space between your screen and work surface.
2. Use 1/2tsp of water to make the glue spread more easily, but not more or it will be harder to cover the entire area. You may even want to do two coats, and let it dry in between. I had to help some of the smaller kids fill in some of theirs.
3. Remember, whatever space is not filled with glue will transfer paint!
Step FOUR: Let it Dry
It will take at least two hours to dry, so plan your day accordingly. You could even split it between two days.
Step FIVE: PRINT! :)
To 'print' your images, lay the embroidery hoop so that the screen is flush to the paper. Dollop some paint in a few key spots of the design. Use the card to scrape the paint across the entire design. Then gently lift the screen off to see your design! We used scrap cardboard and paper before printing our designs onto nice paper.
Step SIX: Clean :(
This will be messy, messy, messy. Let all the paint and glue dry overnight and scrape it off the next day. We are blessed with tile floors in our school room. Do not attempt on carpet!
If you try this, please let me know how it goes. I would love to invest in some more technical equipment when the kids get a little older. Maybe one of them will discover their own love of printing!
What passions of yours show up the most in your schooling?
Luke and I are married and have five little munchkins that travel the world with us. I blog about living overseas, travel, kids, homeschooling and graphic design.
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