RENEW
Jun 19, 2012

Posted by | 9 Comments

Screen Printing 101 for the Art Room

The Idea

Who came up with the idea of Screen Printing t-shirts to raise money for a cause?

My students!

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!

Printing 

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!

 

 

The Funding

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!

Reactions

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? 

 

 

 

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  • Vicky

    This looks wonderful. After you have finished with the screen can you re-use the screen once it has screen filler on it? How do you remove it? I have just finished screen printing with grade fours but we laboriously cut out stencils with knives. This looks much easier, thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.theartofed.com/ Chelsie Meyer

      Hello
      Vicky,

      Thanks
      so much for asking! I forgot to mention that I use Greased Lighting to remove the screen
      filler so we can re-use the screen. I found it in the cleaning supply aisle.

      It
      takes a little bit to get them clean, but this was another reason I went with
      the drawing fluid/screen filler option- you do not have to throw the expensive
      screens away!I feel this method leaves a cleaner print. I have used Mask-Ease too but the ink would sometimes go in places it was not supposed to go. 

      It
      also says that 1 cup of Arm & Hammer’s Soda with 1 gallon of water will do
      the trick! Click
      here to read more- scroll down to Screen Filler.

      Thanks
      so much for asking! I forgot to mention that I use Greased Lighting to remove the screen
      filler so we can re-use the screen. I found it in the cleaning supply aisle.

      It
      takes a little bit to get them clean, but this was another reason I went with
      the drawing fluid/screen filler option- you do not have to throw the expensive
      screens away!

      I feel this method leaves a cleaner print. I have used Mask-Ease too but the ink would sometimes go in places it was not supposed to go. 

      It
      also says that 1 cup of Arm & Hammer’s Soda with 1 gallon of water will do
      the trick! Click
      here to read more- scroll down to Screen Filler.

  • http://www.theartofed.com/ Jessica Balsley

    I have never done this, but your method seems much simpler than others I have seen. I am amazed at the things you can get your student to take initiative and do!  

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  • marieelcin

    we use Simple Green to remove screen filler and reclaim screens- let it soak for about 5 minutes and wash with hot water- might take a few rounds, but it’s worth it. For more easily removable stencils try contact paper or shape/letter stickers. These can also be used in place of drawing fluid if simple shapes are needed, and you can do positive/negative switches by first printing the background negative space color, then coat with filler, allow to dry and peel off stickers to print positive space color!

  • Amy Roadman

    I teach in a small rural district and started with nothing but the basic supplies 2 years ago.  This past year we received a huge grant that we called Print-It-Out in which we were able to obtain new technology and a semi-professional screen printing set-up.  My middle school students designed awesome t-shirts and printed them the last couple weeks of school.  You couldn’t be more right about who ends up loving the process.  The students that won the design contest and the others who stayed after school to print were not my most artistic students but they were such hard workers and were super excited about the entire process that I found a way to involve students who normally weren’t as excited about art.  The money we raised bought us a used kiln and ceramic supplies to add to the curriculum.  Next year I’m hoping to start up a student store and see where it goes from there.  

    • http://www.theartofed.com/ Jessica Balsley

      Wow! You have been busy and deserve all the great things coming your way. It really shows that everyone can succeed in the art room!

  • Kmason

    What a great idea. I think my middle school students would love to do this. Our school is celebrating our 45th anniversary this coming year and I need to come up with a fundraiser idea. I am curious how many screens you used to make the process efficient and keep everyone busy. I will need to put together a budget. I have done thermofax printing myself which is a very easy way to make screens, unfortunately my machine needs some fixing. Also what vendor did you use to purchase the shirts?

    • http://www.theartofed.com/ Chelsie Meyer

      This would be a great way to help your school celebrate their 45th year! 

      I used around 4 screens with around 3 students at a printing station.   Other students helped sort and organize t-shirts, heat set the image by ironing,  and prepare the printed labels that we put on the shirts after they were completed.  

      I did have some outside help as well, when students came in during study hall or after school.   Two ironing boards would be a good idea, if you can round them up!

      I will double check on the vendor and get back to you.  Our FCS teacher recommended them.

      • H. Taylor

        I am so motivated to try this! I love that it is a community service project too. Thanks for all the great “how-to” info. Chelsie, we would love to know the name of a good vendor for the T-shirts if it’s o.k. to share.

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