Here we will discuss a very affordable way to build your own screen printer from materials that you can find around your home and at your local arts and crafts store. This is an easy way to have fun making your own designs and applying them to blank t-shirts and other apparel.
Items you will need for your home made screen printer are:
- Blank T-Shirt
- Old wooden picture frame
- Nylon Mesh
- Screen Printing Squeegee
- Staple Gun
- Water Resistant Glue
Step 1 - Making the Screen
Take the nylon mesh and cut out a piece larger than the size of your frame. Staple the nylon mesh to one corner of the frame, pull the nylon mesh so that is it is nice and tight to the opposite corner of the frame, and staple it there. Repeat this process for the remaining two corners and apply securing staples to the sides of the frame. This will ensure the nylon mesh does not go anywhere. Using your hammer, make sure those staples are down as far as possible because this is the part of the frame you will be pressing against the t-shirt. Cut the nylon mesh (not too close to the staples) to the approximate size of your picture frame.
Step 2 - Applying the Pattern to the Screen
Draw your pattern onto a piece of paper and cut it out using a pair of scissors. Once you have the pattern cut out, flip the pattern over as a whole so that it looks backwards. Take this backwards pattern and put it on the side of the frame that will be pressed against the t-shirt (it will be the same side you just stapled). Carefully apply the water-resistant glue around the pattern making an outline, while being careful not to permanently apply the pattern to the screen. This should create a negative of your pattern. Now your pattern is ready to be applied.
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Step 3 - Preparing the T-Shirt or other apparel for screen printing
Put a piece of cardboard inside of the t-shirt to create a wall so that the ink does not seep through to the other side of the fabric. Slide a piece of newspaper between the shirt and the cardboard to help absorb any excess ink immediately to keep it from running. Pull the t-shirt nice and tight to give the screen printer a nice easy flat surface to print to and put the screen printer against it.
Step 4 - Applying the pattern to the T-shirt or other apparel
On one side of the screen printer, outside of the pattern, put down a line of ink going the length of the pattern. Using the squeegee, slowly drag the ink across the screen to cover the entire screen. Pick up the squeegee and go back to the starting point and repeat the process. Using one hand to hold down the t-shirt, use the other hand to carefully pick up the screen printer off the fabric.
Congratulations, you have made your very own t-shirt!