Best in Class: How to Silk Screen Valentines
Unique designs ready to reproduce en masse
“Paintings are too hard…Machines have less problems. I'd like to be a machine, wouldn't you?”
So said Andy Warhol of the silk screening technique he helped popularize in the early sixties. This versatile craft takes a bit of planning, but once the materials are assembled, it is fairly easy and incredibly rewarding to become the machine of Warhol’s dreams, capable in just seconds of producing work of art after work of art, each one infinitely reproducible yet completely unique. Impress your friends by slapping an iconic image on elegant party invitations, professional-looking T-shirts and tote bags, or fill a bag full of cards for your children to customize and dispense to their class at will. With its changing colors and chemical reactions, kids will love to help out in the thrilling process of silk screening. In fact, it's hard not to be overcome by child-like wonder yourself while turning virtually any surface into a canvass for rich color and impressive results. To get started, simply find or draw any high-contrast, black-and-white design. For these Valentines, I started with the image of a paper doily found in a quick Google search and bought red Speedball paint at my local art store.
You will need:
Bright lightbulb (150 watts) and a reflector
Step 1: Prepare screen
Coat with photo-sensitive emulsion and store in a dark room (a windowless closet will do) until completely dry (at least 1 hour)
Step 2: Prepare image
While waiting for screen to dry, create an image to reproduce. Draw or print desired design onto transparencies. For best results, double up: place two identical images on top of each other to make image light-impenetrable and tape sheets together.
Step 3: Burn screen
Tape transparencies to screen and expose to light. To test when done, place a dime on screen and watch for it to turn a slight yellow color.
Step 4: Rinse screen:Using a soft-bristled brush like a toothbrush, or carefully with your fingers, rinse screen until image is visible.
Step 5: Print test:
Place screen face-down on paper. Place a dollop of paint onto the back of the screen and push through with squeejee. Carefully peel paper off screen and let dry.
Step 6: Print onto desired materials:
Use old t-shirts, tote bags, poster paper, or note cards
Step 7: Repeat final step, ad infinitum, if you like.