Friday, February 27, 2009

Screen Printing

I've been experimenting with silk screen printing since 1993. My setup is very crude. I don't even have a press. I just lay the screen on top of the shirt, or cloth or whatever, and hold it down by hand. To hell with screen standoff! I still get pretty good results, considering. My biggest problem is consistency. My latest silk screening project was to make about 80 t-shirts to promote an event my store was sponsoring.

It was a Halloween party, or as people in the Craft call it, a Witches' Ball. These shirts were made as fund raisers for the event. The event itself was a big success, but it left me about $500 in the hole (and took about $3000 in capital to produce). I bought the shirts in bulk from an online supplier. I made the design myself, using a piece of clip art and a couple nice fonts. I laid it out in Corel Draw and printed it on a piece of transparency film. I printed it out twice and laid one sheet over the other to make sure it was good and opaque. Then I used the transparency as my positive for the photo exposure. My photo emulsion setup is pretty primitive too. I did splurge on the No.1 photoflood bulb (about $5 for one specialty light bulb that only has about a 30 hour life expectancy), but I still use a simple bare-wire socket with an aluminum pie plate reflector. I hang the thing off of my microphone stand and put the screen on the floor. I have used the Speedball photo emulsion kit for years. Unfortunately, my local craft store, Pat Catan's, no longer stocks it. They have switched to the Diazo kit (also made by Speedball), which I hate. The old kit may no longer be in production, which sucks on ice. I also don't have a flash curing heater. I have to iron each piece by hand, for five minutes, to heat set it. Not a problem for short runs, but your arm gets pretty tired after doing that to 80 shirts.

These are a couple of altar cloths I made to sell at the store. I found some nice cloth table napkins at a discount store really cheap. I can't pass up a good bargain, even if I don't know what I'm going to use it for. "Charley Bronson's always got rope..."

I also make custom t-shirts for my gaming club's events. In addition to a whole lot of other great Call of Cthulhu events, Rogue Cthulhu puts on two special events each year. "And Then There Was One" and "Club Carcosa". I make special t-shirts for the winners of each of these events. That is I used to. The events were retired after their 2008 finales. Eight years is a good run.

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