Once you know how to print on paper you will see a whole world of artsy opportunity open up!
The difference between printing onto paper and printing onto fabric is that fabric is absorbent and paper is not. So when you pass a squeegee over fabric it will absorb the ink but paper tends to let the ink sit on top of it. When the ink can not be absorbed or penetrate the surface you wish to print the design will blur/ smudge when printed. So often paper printing is done off-contact. Sounds complicated, but it’s not. Printing off-contact means you slightly raise your screen (3-5mm or 1.4″) off the print surface. That’s it.
To achieve that slightly raised screen most people tape a small square of cardboard box underneath the two corners of their screen nearest them. The other side of the screen is sitting in hinge clamps. Having this small amount of space when you pass the squeegee over the paper allows the screen to spring back up once you have printed and avoids the blur you would get otherwise.
I have a habit. A bad one. I don’t leave enough space between my image and the edges of the screen. I generally try to cram as much image onto my print surface as possible. Often I can get away with it because I’m printing onto fabric and my screen is touching my print surface. But with paper printing you ABSOLUTELY need to have at least 2-3 inches of space between the inside edge of the screen and the image. Otherwise you won’t have enough room for the screen to stretch down to the print surface as the squeegee passes over that area.
Another difference between fabric printing and paper printing is that with paper printing your screen will be in hinge clamps and attached to your print surface while you move in and out new paper. Fabric printing is different; when you are printing yardage, the fabric stays in the same spot but you move your screen. So in that way I find it is much easier to register your screens with paper than fabric. Once you have your screen in the hinge clamps place a piece of transparency paper on your print surface. Have one side of it taped to the table. With your transparency under you screen, print your image. Then take your paper and place it under the image printed on the transparency and line it up so the image is in the spot you want it. Flip the transparent paper out of the way and place some masking tape along the bottom and one side of the paper edge on the table. You’re not taping the paper in place you’re lining up the edge of the tape with the edge of the paper. When you remove the paper the tape will be your reference point for where to put the new piece of paper. This keeps your image printing on the same spot on every piece of paper.
Here are the steps to printing onto paper for one one or multi-color designs:
2.Place your printing screen in the hinge clamps.
3.Tape two pieces of cardboard box to the underside corners of your printing screen nearest you.
4. Lightly spray your print surface with photo adhesive or spread a tiny amount of table adhesive over the area so that it is slightly tacky.
5. Take a large piece of transparent paper and place it over your work surface; taping it on one side only to your print table.
6. Print one pass of your image onto the transparent paper.
7. Place your paper under the transparency so that your image will print where you want it to.
8. Flip the transparency away from your print area.
9. Mark the bottom and side of the paper edge with masking tape. These will be your registration marks- don’t remove them.
10. Pour a bead of ink along the bottom of your screen area (the well).
11. Flood the screen with the screen in a raised position then print with the screen down.
12. Print all pieces of paper with this screen and let them dry.
13. Flip your transparency paper back onto your print surface. And print the second colour screen. Use that new print as a guide and place one of the printed pieces of paper so the colours line up with the acetate print. Then place new registration tabs for this piece of paper.
14. Repeat these steps for each colour your have in you design.
Let me know about your paper printing projects and send in pictures of your work! I’d love to see them!
If you want more instruction and some really helpful tips, download free my ebook “SCREEN PRINT: The Ultimate Guide” when you join my email newsletter.
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