Silk Screen Resources for Beginners?

(pic for funsies, not necessarily an example)

I thought I’d try the Art section for this question since silk screen does not necessarily have to be on textiles.

I’d like to try my hand at it as since I have a milestone birthday coming up in a few months, I thought I could ask for a silk screen set up, but what would that entail exactly? I would love the idea of producing the same image(s) multiple times (a bunch of totes, tea towels, etc.), so I assume I’d need at least a few screens.

Annnnnyway if anyone has kits other resources for advice to recommend, I’d love to hear them!


You can buy premade screens like this:

The finer the mesh, the more detail you can get from your design.

Then you’d be venturing into the world of how you want to create your image. You could do photo emulsion if you feel comfortable with that, or drawing fluid and filler.

There’s a lot that goes into it, but I used to do a lot before so if you have specific questions, I’m always happy to lend my expertise. :wink:


I’ve done some silk screen, but I’m a long way from being an expert.

I would start with a screen a squeegee and the inks (get fabric ones) and some tape to mask off the edges.

At its most basic you can cut an image from paper (thin newsprint type) flood the screen with ink and lay it down on the paper. The ink will make the paper stick to the screen and you can make prints.That will be good for at least a dozen or more repeats.

But since you do a lot of cricuit-ing you could cut stencils on it, sticky vinyl can be used and that will give you a lot more repeats.

You have to wash out the inks (very thoroughly) after a session, or it will dry and block the mesh. And if you’re using a two colour print you will have to let it dry before you add the second. So tbh as a starting point, one screen will be fine.

From there you can use photo emulsions, basically you coat the screen (low light) use something like a black and white image photocopied onto acetate, put it on the screen and shine a strong light on to it. Then wash off the screen. Where the light has passed through clear areas of the screen, it will have ‘set’ the dark parts of the image won’t pass light, so that emulsion will wash out. Using this method is more fiddly and expensive, but you’ll end up with stencils that have really fine detail and they will last for ages. They will withstand washing off the ink, so they can be used repeatedly. You can eventually remove the stencil from the screen with specific solvents. If you want to do this kind of thing, a number of screens will be useful.

Personally I would start small, try one screen and some speedball inks, see how you get on. An advantage to a number of screens is that you can fit the screen to your image size

Instructables has a lot of ghetto silk screen methods using things like mesh fabric and embroidery hoops. That might be fun to experiment with. Plus it will help you figure out what kind of a setup you want

A screen holding frame is useful to get accurate registration, but you could make that (the hinges and clamps for that are available on AliExpress)

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THANKS, @Edel! So if you were going to put together a beginner-who-wants-to-grow set up would it be:
a few sizes of screens
appropriate size squeegees
inks for fabric

I have done the paper method before, over 20 years ago and have considered going with some cricut vinyl to start. If I feel like I get the hang of it, I would definitely want to go to emulsion, because more detailed images are the ones I am drawn to producing.

Yes, i would, personally spend more on inks than screens, because unless you’re putting on emulsions, you can reuse a screen once it’s clean-you don’t have to wait until it’s dry. You could also get a screen filler, you can paint that on with a brush to do freehand stencils.

Also the inks mix well together, so I would go for primary colours, black, white, metallics (if you like that kind of thing) maybe a good turquoise and a nice purple. The inks last forever, so get larger amounts as they work out far cheaper

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Good to know! When I did it before the friend who was putting together the craft session went with CMYK + white to mix from. Does that seem suitable or stick with red/yellow/blue/black/white?

I’d always go with primary RYB because it’s paint, but tbh I don’t know which would work best for mixing.

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Well, I’ve never done any creative screen printing, but I’ve done it professionally for high temperature electronics.
Something that looks like this:

So, here’s my nerdy engineer input:
I like the idea of cutting vinyl and using it as a stencil attached to the screen. I use my silhouette cameo for all kinds of stencils and decals. But photo emulsion fills the screen mesh so no ink can creep between the screen and the image. This is why I would use the Mod Podge option for a first try.

For colors, I do quite a bit of airbrush and I only use CMYK.
It’s basically an updated version of the RYB color wheel which is always a bit off. Here’s a long article about that.

The physics behind that is, that there are additive and subtractive primary colors. Additive colors are used when each color adds light. Such as colored light bulbs, LED or computer screen pixels. The primary colors are RGB and combined they produce white light.
Subtractive colors subtract the light from a source and are basically any kind of paint or pigment since they subtract color from the white light that’s reflected from the paper. Those colors are CMY, which is what every printer uses. Mixed together they should turn out black(ish). K is just the black ink because it’s cheaper and easier to use for adding contrast.

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I read a book about color recently and now remember the discussion of additive and subtractive colors.