How to Silk Screen for Fun and Profit

If you want to learn how to silk screen, here is a step-by-step guide.

| January/February 1980

When potter Susan Shutt set out to publicize her semiannual stoneware sale, she wanted to have an attractive color flyer to pass around ... but couldn't afford the commercial printers' prices. So Susan turned to silk-screening—a type of stencil printing that's used to produce posters, street signs, drinking-glass designs, labels, and personalized T-shirts—to create a high-quality color ad on heavy paper at an economical cost.

The printing project was a definite success. Sue's handmade announcements attracted hundreds of customers, and she sold enough pottery in one day to keep her little self-operated business going for another five months!  

If you'd like to cash in on this creative way to print, too, you'll find that the costs for supplies and equipment will run somewhere around $20. Better yet, all the items you'll need are available at art supply and hobby shops! Here's what you need to know how to silk screen.

Frame and Fabric

The silk screen, itself, is nothing more than a wooden frame with fabric stretched tightly across its face. The devices can be bought (in a variety of sizes) ready-made ... but you can also build one out of appropriate lengths of knot-free, 1" X 2" wood strips which are doubled on each side, lap-jointed at the corners for strength, and varnished to reduce the chances of warping.

The size of your screen's frame will depend, of course, on the size of the design you wish to reproduce. At a minimum, you'll need 3 1/2 inches of clearance between the outer edge of your artwork's stencil and the frame. This "freeboard" allows the screen to flex as you print.

You'll also need a printing board (a piece of plywood or particle board will do) that's about three inches larger than your screen. This plank should be hinged to the frame at one end, using pin-type door hinges that permit easy removal. Then, to guarantee a smooth printing surface, tape a piece of poster board or untextured mat board over the wood.

1/21/2009 2:12:24 PM

This is a great article. I will be following it in detail soon when i attempt my first screenprinting project. My only wish is that the images were larger and, preferably, embedded within the text to which they refer. Pictures really help me a lot, but these are so teeny that I am having a hard time telling what is going on. But thanks for the great information. lane

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: September 14-16, 2018
Seven Springs, PA

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard