So I didn't take pictures of the entire process but here are a few pictures to help explain some of the process of silk screening. Steps that are missing pictures I will add picture soon!!
First you had to size your design correctly so that it will print out the way you want it to look on the design. EACH color of the design gets it's own screen and thus you have to print out a transparency film for each color. Since This is a 1 color design we only need to print out one set of films for this design. This design is larger than a 8.5"x14" film so I will have to use 2 films to print this design. This is what the design looks like when it's ready to print onto Transparency Film. Transparency film is clear plastic paper that you print Black ink onto. This film then goes onto your screen while you expose it. When you expose the screen the areas that are covered by the black ink will become "empty" parts of the screen. You basically are creating a stencil that you are going to push ink through and onto a shirt.
Next Step would be to print out the films then Expose the screen. I don't have any pictures of this part as I didn't have my camera with me at the time. This part has to be done in a light safe area as any light will "expose" the emulsion and ruin the screen. You don't want to "expose" the emulsion on the screen to any light until you have put your film down on and and you are ready to essentially harden or burn your screen.
Next step after exposure is to Wash out your screen. Any areas that were underneath the black part of your transparency film will wash away when you wash the screen. The other emulsion that wasn't under the black ink was subjected to UV energy and thus becomes hard and won't wash out. This is how we create out stencil. You would then dry the screen off and we could also put it under our exposure light to get the stencil harder and ready to hold up to hundreds of prints.
This is what a Screen looks like after you have exposed it correctly and you have washed it and dried it:
This is the side that I look at while exposing. It can be tough to remember to make sure the film is laid down so it's a Mirror image before exposing. I've made a few screens and forgot this before. Not fun!!
Next would be to lock the screen into one of the press arms.. This is what the press looks like with 2 screen already on it and with me setting up the new screen:
Next step is to Tape up the screen so that no ink will get on the shirt except where you wnat it to. We tape up the edges plus any registration marks and testing strips that were used. I had 2 registration marks on this design as well as a 21-step test to make sure I exposed the screen for the correct time:
Next thing to do is to apply ink to the screen and get a squeegee for it. The squeegee basically pushes the ink through the stencil(image area) and applies a small amount of ink to the shirt underneath. Depending on how thick your emulsion/stencil is and how many times you decided to stroke(go over the design with your squeegee) you can get thick bright prints or lighter and softer prints. I chose to apply only a small amount of ink to give the shirt a "softer hand" or a more designer feel. The ink isn't as noticeable when touching it than when I normally print work for clients. Here is an image of the screen with the ink applied to it. I had already run a few prints by this time:
After you apply a stroke of ink with the squeegee you lift the screen up and you get a nice deposit of ink on the shirt underneath. The shirt is placed through a "platen" which basically keeps the shirt in place so it doesn't move or stick to the screen.
Since this is only a 1 color print I can remove the shirt from the "platen" and lay it on a surface to get cured. The ink I use is Plastisol ink. It doesn't Dry at all. If you get it on your hands you will get it all over everything until you clean it off your hands unlike paint which will dry and crack off. Plastisol ink has to "cure" which can be achieved by heating the ink to around 320F. There is a device called a Flash dryer which is basically a big heater on casters that we use to "flash" a print or to cure it.
Here is an image of the shirt with the flash dryer over it. It only takes about 30 seconds for me to "cure" a shirt so it's ready to be worn without the ink falling off or washing out.
These next 2 images basically show the ending result of the printing. This design is a lower side print. I haven't decided if it's going to be completely on the front or if I want it to wrap around the back a little bit. The first picture shows the entire design and the 2nd photo shows a close up of the detail(it's not really that detailed) and the very low amount of ink I put on the shirt.
I Hope that this was informative and show a little of the process of a basic silk screening design. Designs with multiple colors get way more complicated and when you add gradients/shadows/etc it makes the process even more complicated. Just wanted to show you guys a little of what I do when I'm not at my retail job and not discgolfing!