Screen Printing 101 for the Art Room
Who came up with the idea of Screen Printing t-shirts to raise money for a cause?
I challenged my 8th Grade students with a class project called You-in-Society. For the You-in-Society project, students had to create an art project that positively impacted their community by using art. My first class to decide to print t-shirts came from an emotional desire to help out a classmate, who at the time was very sick and waiting for a kidney transplant. Students designed the t-shirt with their classmate in mind. We sold over 100 t-shirts! The profits from the project went to her and her family. Since this first event, we have screen printed for Relay for Life and other charities.
Print your Own T-Shirts with this Easy Tutorial!
Organizing your Pre-Orders
This step is very important! Pre-Orders allow you to collect the money and know how many of each size you will need when it comes time to print. This step ensures that you raise money.
Print a sample shirt or put your graphic on a t-shirt logo, to help give your customers an idea of what the finished product will look like before they buy. I create a pre-order form with the student’s name, homeroom or advisory teacher (as this is the way most things at the middle school are sorted back to students), t-shirt size, and the quantity.
After you collect the money and pre-order form, then you can go and purchase what t-shirt sizes you need. This is the beauty of a pre-ordering! You will have money in hand to purchase the amount of t-shirts you will need! You know exactly how many you need and in what sizes! I always grab a few extra, just in case!
After researching various methods I found, Drawing Fluid and Screen Filler. It is a simple process to create some great screen prints and is very student friendly. Students in upper elementary could even handle this project, and of course, high schoolers would do great as well.
Check out the great YouTube video that helps to visualize the process:
Here are the steps to Screen Printing using Drawing Fluid and Screen Filler:
1) Students work together to draw a design and make 2 or 3 photocopies.
2) Then students placed the photocopied image under the screen and paint the Drawing Fluid onto the screen, using the image underneath as a guide.
3) Once the image is painted on using the Drawing Fluid, let it dry overnight and the next day squeegee on the Screen Filler. Anywhere you painted the Drawing Fluid will resist the Screen Filler. The Screen Filler creates a coating on the screen to block the ink from going through.
4) Then after the Screen Filler dries, you can simply wash off the Drawing Fluid with water and the screen appears. So wherever you painted Drawing Fluid is where your printed image will be in the end.
5) Now you are ready to print! Grab any color of fabric screen printing ink or mix colors to create your own unique color.
6) Cut cardboard to put on the inside of the shirt, just in case the screen printing ink bleeds through.
7) Put the ink on the screen and squeegee several times to make sure you printed a great image!
8) Pull the screen slow away from the shirt- this is my favorite part! Voila! Presto!
9) Place a piece of paper over your image to heat set the screen printing ink with an iron.
10) Organize your finished t-shirts by sizes and homerooms and start handing out your wonderful student-designed, student- printed t-shirts!
Screen printing for a cause is a great win-win, my students get to experience this costly project and their selected charity receives the profit from selling the printed t-shirts. They see that they can use art to make a difference in the lives of others. Selling t-shirts designed & made by your students can bring in some pretty hefty profits! Our profits have ranged from $100 to $800! Wowza! Maybe not enough to put your local printmaking shop out of business, but at least you can give them a run for their money!
Seeing their design walking around on 20 to 100 t-shirts is pretty empowering for middle school students! As an art teacher the added work is worth it when students experience printing making first hand. I know that when I was in college many of my friends became “addicted” to screen printing once they experience this great art form! This might be the one project that reaches that student who might not really “enjoy” art. Who knew that making t-shirts would make the world a better place? So go out there and print yourself some artastic tees all while helping others.
Have you ever tried screen printing with students? Tell us about it!
What questions do you have about the screen printing process?