This is a simple method for one color silk-screening that I learned from THLady Isabel the Mad a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Oops! Sorry.
Thank you Isabel, you’re the greatest!!!
Take your frame and lay the flat side of the frame face up and the curvy or decorative side of the frame face down. Apply the carpet tape to the flat side of the frame, with one edge of the tape as close to the inner opening as possible.
Lay the veil fabric over the tape and pulling it tight, tack it down by pressing the fabric onto the tape. A good rule of thumb is to start in the middle of each side the pull out and diagonally to get the fabric as taunt as possible. Trim off the excess fabric around the edge and now the frame is ready for your image transfer.
Flip the frame over so the fabric and tape side is down on the table- for our purposes this position will be referred to as ‘right side up’. Transfer the image you want to the fabric by either freehand drawing (Yeah, Right!) or by sliding a copy of the image face up under the frame and tracing it (my preferred method) a soft leaded pencil works best for this…make sure your lead doesn’t cut the fabric. Take your time as this is the base for your image the better the drawing, the better the screen.
Masking out the image: examine your image and decide where you DO NOT want paint to go. This is the part of the screen that you coat with the fabric glue. Make sure you get a good solid coat of glue on your fabric to fill in all the holes. Make sure that you get the glue all the way into the corners and around the edge of the frame seal up all the holes so paint can’t sneak in later when your screening. Every now and then turn your frame over and smooth out the glue on the back, making sure that you get all your nooks and crannies. Glue the fabric to the frame really well, as this is what will keep your image true (the right shape after years of use.) Take your time here as well as this is the final image, the better the masking, the better the screen.
If you get some glue where you didn’t mean to get glue quickly wipe off the excess and use a brush with warm water to clear the fibers so you can see thru the image. Let the screen dry overnight. Look thru your image and check for any pinholes of light if it looks good then your ready to screen! If you find little holes, glue and let dry. Be patient, a good original screen will last a long time.
When you’re ready to screen, always do a test screen to make sure the screen is in top condition and there are no holes in the mask. If you find paint where you don’t want it then wash the screen off and patch with glue and wait to dry again. If you are in a hurry you can always patch with a bandaid and glue a patch later, just remember to maintain your screens.
To screen, first protect you work surface with some newspaper and the makes sure your fabric is clean and wrinkle-free, if you are screening on a seam make sure it is ironed as flat as possible. Place the screen with the fabric side down on your fabric. Put a dollop of paint at the top of the screen and take the bondo scraper and squeegee the paint gently, but firmly down the screen, working paint into the open weave (the pattern) of the fabric. Work side-to-side, top to bottom, and bottom to top and diagonally, making sure the entire image is transferred onto the fabric.
An extra set of hands come in handy as you carefully pull the screen up off the fabric. Hold the fabric down, as it will try to stick to the frame. Check your product for splotches and smeared paint. If you like the final product, move it someplace safe to dry and keep on screening! If there are nasty splotches and you don’t like the look if you’re quick you can wash it out, dry the fabric and try again once your done troubleshooting (did you press too hard and squeeze paint everywhere or is it a problem with the screen?)
You can screen about 50 to 60 times depending on the amount of moisture the glue on the screen absorbed from the paint. When the glue in the mask starts turning really opaque, like when you laid out the mask to begin with or you can tell the edges of your prints start looking fuzzy as the edge losses definition, just stop screening (I know you want to finish the project!) and wash off the screen in cool running water and let it dry thoroughly before you start screening again or you can speed the drying time by using a blow dryer on the screen; I’ve done that a hundred times! Check the image between each use to make sure the lines are still clean and clear.
When you are done screening make sure you wash all your screens and tools off really well and let them dry thoroughly before you pack them away…mildew is a Meridian enemy!! Blow-dry the screen if your not sure, but I just leave mine on the kitchen drain rack overnight.
Let your screened images dry twenty-four hours or so, then heat-set it with a dry iron. Use the highest setting your fabric will take and use a clean pressing cloth that you don’t mind getting paint on if it bleeds back off the image. Press firmly and with small circular motions set the paint for about 30 seconds for an image…. kind of like doing an iron-on transfer or iron-on interfacing.
The printed images, depending on the fabric, will last a good long time even with multiple washings. I have several fighting tunics that have been thru the wringer (literally) and the images are still nice and clear. You can always turn them inside out to wash. I have noticed that high cotton blends hold their images the best but it doesn’t mean you can’t try it on shiny fabrics (I’ll let you know how the new peerage banners weather.)
Multiple color screening involves layering single color screened images on top of each other, making sure to ‘register’ (i.e. line up) the images carefully. It is not that difficult but you just have to remember the first image laid down will be the background and you build the image up to the top.
See, it is EASY…the method is not entirely period…but it is a quick way to get heraldry into your life. It is also a wonderful way to make $1.99 fabric look like a million (can we say…semi of fleurs?) All you need is a clean driveway (if you don’t mind poke-a-dots later), bricks and a sunny day (in a pinch: smooth living room floor or plywood and lots of newspaper and quarantined pets and/or roommates…off the fabric!!! Hee, hee!)
- ALWAYS SCREEN A TEST SCREEN BEFORE YOU START ON YOUR GOOD FABRIC!!!
- The thicker the paint, the easier to learn. Once you have done it a while you can experiment with thinner paints…. you just have to work faster and have a lighter hand.
- Before you start make sure you have someplace cat and breeze proof to lay out the drying projects, a slowly turning or constant ceiling fan is okay but cats are curious and a sudden or strong breeze can flip edges over onto themselves and make for unhappy screeners…Oooo, the things I have said!!!
- Flat, wet painted fabric always takes up more space than you think.
- ‘Dry’ images aren’t always!!! Don’t rush the drying process, you don’t want to start stacking up damp pennons only to find out later you have smeared your work or they are all stuck together (voice of experience!)
- Start with simpler, bold images to get the feel for the screen. After a couple of simple images, then go for the really nice detailed pieces.
- Remember to keep your glue lines clean and your open spaces clear of extra glue.
THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP I CAN GIVE YOU IS:
DON’T GET FRUSTRATED!