HOW TO MAKE… A PRINTED TOWEL

Mollie Makes - - Loving -

MA­TE­RI­ALS

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.

Mak­ing sten­cils

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.

Clean­ing up

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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