HOW TO MAKE… A PRINTED TOWEL
Stencil paper Screen Pencil Squeegee Craft knife Cutting board Masking tape Packing tape Spatula Printing ink in yellow, pink, blue and white Large cotton beach towel Move over, doughnut inflatables, there’s a new beach VIP on the scene – a custom screen-printed towel that’s your ticket to reserving that coveted sun lounger. Memphis-style brights and bold, playful shapes are the order of the day here, so don’t be shy with your summer print design.
If you’re using a towel made from terry towelling, it’s best to stick to solid, simple shapes when planning your design – it’s nearly impossible to capture fine detail on the rough texture of the towel. You’ll want to avoid printing too close to the edges of the towel as well. Familiarise yourself with the printing techniques in Steps 1-15 before tackling the towel.
Plan and draw your design onto paper. Remember that when creating a stencil, you can’t have shapes floating inside other shapes; you’ll need a separate stencil for each layer.
Make sure your stencil fits the size of the screen. Place the design over a light box or attach it to a window, and trace the design onto stencil paper. Only use a pencil when tracing on stencil paper – if you use a pen or marker, the ink will bleed onto the fabric.
Place the stencil paper on the cutting mat and use the craft knife to cut out your design. When cutting straight lines, it can be handy to use a metal ruler to keep your lines straight. The stencil is now ready to be printed.
Preparing the fabric and screen
Iron the fabric well. Some fabrics need to be pre-washed so they become more absorbent, but most fabrics, including calico, cotton and linen, generally don’t
need pre-washing. If printing onto wood, corkboard or paper, there’s no preparation needed; simply lay it flat on the work surface.
Prepare your screen by sticking packing tape to the front of the screen – the flat side – to create a border. This makes space at the top, bottom and sides of the screen and is where the ink will start and finish; this is called the ‘ink well’. You should only attach tape and stencils to the front of the screen – keep the back as smooth and uninterrupted as possible.
Attach the stencil to the front of the screen using two pieces of masking tape. Masking tape is easy to remove when wet, so it won’t damage the stencil.
Make sure the stencil overlaps the frame of tape around the screen. Hold the screen up to the light to make sure there’s no exposed mesh other than the design and adjust the stencil or add more packing tape if needed.
How to print
Place the screen right side (RS) down on the surface you’re printing onto. Use a spatula to spread a generous amount of ink in the ink well above the design. Hold the screen with one hand, or get a friend to hold it for you, so it doesn’t move while you’re printing.
Next, position the squeegee on a 45 angle above the design and pull the ink down the screen, as shown. Don’t apply too much pressure – only use the weight of the squeegee. This is called a flood stroke; it ensures the design will get sufficient ink. Now it’s time to apply pressure. Using that same 45° angle, give the squeegee three hard pulls across the screen, keeping an even pressure from top to bottom.
Remove the screen from the print by laying one hand flat on one side of the screen and using the other hand to lift the screen up, as shown, almost like opening a book. It’s always best to prop the screen up off the table using a block of wood or a roll of tape until you’re ready to clean it.
Now comes the clean up. Carefully use the spatula to scrape all the excess ink back into the ink pot. Remove the stencil and wash off the ink residue. Allow the stencil to air-dry or carefully dry using a hair dryer.
Wash out the screen in running water, making sure you get into all the nooks and crannies. It’s important to wash out the screen reasonably quickly – if you leave it too long, the ink will dry in the screen. Once clean, allow the
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