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Screen Printing

Processing Screens

Silk Screens

Photograph of three screens with a design "burned" into them.

Screens are a wooden or metal frame with polyester 

fabric stretched onto them.

The polyester fabric is a lot like the screen on your 
screen door, It has anywhere from 25 threads per inch, 
to 355 threads per inch (mesh count). The mesh count 
we will use is determined by the type of design we 
will be printing. The finer the detail in the design, 
The higher the screen mesh count will be.

We begin the process of making our screens by stretching 
the polyester fabric (mesh) onto the wooden frame, 
and securing it with a very strong glue. Then trim 
any excess fabric of the edges of the frame.

Next, we take a light sensitive emulsion (in a dark room) and apply a even coat to the screen 
mesh. We'll let that dry for about 6 hours.

After the light sensitive emulsion has dried, We will take the film 
positive (as described in the ART section) and 
tape it to the back of the screen mesh.

Then, we will place the screen on a device that emits light, 
Called an exposure unit (shown below), and expose the screen with 
light for a short period of time.


screen exposure unit
Exposure unit shown

The dark areas (the image) on the film 
positive will prevent light from passing through and exposing the screen, 
The light will pass through clear areas of the film 
positive (where there is no design) and harden the emulsion.

Next, we take the screen off the exposure unit and wash 
it with water. The water will not wash out the hardened emulsion. 
The water will wash out the soft areas that the light 
did not expose.

We are left with a screen that has an image in it (as 
shown at top of page). The ink will pass through the 
open areas of the mesh



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