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DIY Screen Printing (Continued)

Step 3: Exposing Your Screen

Take the transparency you created in Step 1 and tape it upside down on the print side of the dry, coated screen with scotch tape. If there is text in your design, you should make sure that it is flipped over to where you can't read it. This may sound weird at first, but it will all make sense to you once you complete the process.

Once your transparency is taped correctly to the coated screen, cover it with some sort of fabric and bring the screen out to the sunlight. Exposing your screen when the sun is directly overhead works best. When the sun is in a good position and isn't covered by any clouds, remove the fabric from your screen and hold it directly under the sun at a 90 degree angle for about 1 minute. Once the time is up, remove the transparency and gently rinse both sides of the screen with a hose to stop the emulsion from exposing.

Step 4: Washing Out Your Screen

By this point, if everything was done correctly, you should see your design starting to lightly appear through the emulsion. If you can see the image, you are ready to wash it out. Grab a hose and spray the print side of the screen until the image is completely washed out. A good way to test if your screen was washed out thoroughly is to hold it up to the sun light. If your screen was washed out correctly, you should only be able to clearly see the light shining through where the design is. Let your screen dry one last time and move on to Step 5.

Step 5: Preparing To Print

You're so close to the fun part; printing your design. However, you should first check your screen for pinholes. Pinholes are little holes that sometimes appear in your emulsion and ruin your print if not taken care of properly. Hold your screen up to a light and check to see if there are any little holes that allow light to shine through that aren't supposed to be there. If you find any, cover these wish masking tape on the print side of the screen. Also, be sure to tape the sides of the screen where the emulsion did not quite hit the edges. This will make sure the ink only goes through where you want it to, and will not leave a weird square around your image. Last thing before you print, you want to have your screen slightly off contact with the item you are printing on, so tape some pennies or nickels under all 4 corners of the screen on the flat side.

Step 6: Printing Your Design

You made it! Everything looks great and you're ready to print your design. Grab the material you want to print on and lay it on a flat surface. Take your screen and lay the flat side (print side) down on top of the material. Make sure it is straight and centered for obvious reasons. Rest your squeegee on the far edge of your screen, and pour a bead of ink directly in front of the squeegee blade. Pull the ink across the design holding the squeegee at approximately a 45 degree angle. Now, carefully lift up the screen, and admire your pretty design.

*Note: To make sure your ink is set properly (won't wash off), follow the instructions on your ink's container. This can be anything from ironing the back side of the print 3 to 4 times, to letting air dry, to placing the printed material in an oven set at 350 degrees for 30 seconds.

--- So that's it, you are now officially a screen printing master. Well maybe not quite yet, but at least you know all of the basics. Remember, don't get frustrated if you mess something up, just keep trying and you'll be printing masterpieces in no time!