Thursday, May 26, 2011

Screen Printing with Alex

Who remembers screen printing in junior high art class? If you've never had the chance to try it, then you missed out. Simply put, it's a printing technique, like a stencil, that forces ink through a screen and transfers it onto paper, fabric or other substrate. It's very fun. But a tad bit messy. And the cleanup can be a pain. But the results are worth it! 

Here's an example of screen printing on burlap bags, that totally inspired me when I saw it on the dieline
Aren't these bags great? I don't know what it is, but I want one of these. I've been on a burlap kick lately and I happen to have a bunch of it in my craft closet. I also love printmaking and ink. There's just something about bold ink in the form of typography and graphics. Don't you agree? Maybe it's just me. 

Catalina Rozo & Melissa Clinard, recent graduates from the University of Florida created these cute Burlap Bags for Market Grown, a campaign to help local farmers in Alachua County, FL (source, And now they're selling them on Etsy if you'd like to order one.

I was crushing on these bags and trying to figure out how I could make one of my own. Then, low and behold, my husband's brother's girlfriend Alex (did you get that?) tells me she HAS a screen printer. Say what? When is the screen printing party? 

So, that's what we did. We had a screen printing party. It was like having art class in my living room. Alex and David kindly carted all of the printing gear to our house and we went to town testing it on burlap and other fabrics. It was so much fun! 

Here are the screens and ink. 

I traced shapes onto wax paper and cut them out, making stencils. These cherries ended up being my favorite.

I also made a pear and some initial letters (recognize these old stencils Mom? I knew they would come in handy!). We taped them onto the back of the screen with masking tape. 

Then placed fabric underneath, where we wanted the design to transfer. Next, we spread a row of ink, enough to cover the width of the design.

Then it was time for the fun part. Using the squeegee to spread ink through the screen and onto the fabric. When screen printing, be sure to apply enough pressure. You may need to go back over it a couple of times (like I did) to make sure it covers everything. If it's not perfect, that's ok. That's what gives it the screen printed look.

This is what it looks like when the ink is spread. Can you see my "S"? 

 Tada! Isn't that cool? I might make this into a tote bag for myself (someday). 

Here's my favorite. I like the bright red against the light tan.

The mustard color pear didn't look as strong, but it's still cool.

It printed perfectly on this thick piece of white fabric.

An "A" for my honey, Andrew, and of course for Alex, my screen printing teacher. I want to mention that Alex's middle name is Andrea. Which means when you say her full name, it's Alex Andrea. Say it again. Alexandrea. Clever parents.

And "D" for David. 

That concludes this session of art class in my living room. Thank you Alex, for sharing your screen printer and letting me try out burlap printing. And thank you for letting me do all the fun parts, like pick shapes, use the squeegee and admire our designs, while you did the not-so-fun parts like cleaning the screen, washing the utensils and picking up after me. You would make a wonderful art teacher!   

Now to figure out what to make with all my beautiful screen printed pieces of fabric...


  1. I love screen printing. I have all the supplies from my days as a college art student and hope to get back into customizing all sorts of things...someday. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. That looks great!!! What screen printing ink did you use?


Thank you!