Screen Printing is Harder than I thought

Projects, Stuff and Things

It’s almost Cardboard Boat time. Which means it’s also time to make the annual cardboard boat tshirts. I’ve moved up in complexity and quantity every year. For the first year I just got red shirts and drew on them with a black sharpie. Not a bad idea when you’re only making 2 shirts. The next year I did black shirts with a white skull and cross-swords on the back with the word “CarRrRdboard” on the front. I used poster board for the stencil and bought letter stencils for the front. Worked pretty well, I made 4 shirts. Last year I got a little ambitous with the stenciling. I simplified the design and created a SCYC logo and cut it out of hard plastic for the stencil. I did dark green shirts with white (or yellow) paint. I think I made about 10 shirts total.

So that brings me to this year. The boat is bigger, but with less riders, but the shirts are both more complicated and more numerous. Making the design was easy, just threw together some things that I had lying around. I bought a screen printing kit online and followed the directions. I actually thought this was going to be the hard part with the photo emulsions and stuff. But it turned out to be really easy. So i’d been putting off printing the shirts because I thought it was going to be hard and messy. Plus I was waiting for the tshirts to go on sale at Michaels. I printed one test shirt and it didn’t come out very well. I was getting a little nervous. But I tried a couple more times on some scrap fabric, it really is an artform what you have to do with the squegee and it’s hard to tell when you’ve put on enough ink. I think it’s one of those skills that you just have to experiment with. So I bought a bunch of new shirts and set up the sweatshop to print all the shirts in one night ( I have to because the damn race is on Saturday)

Mistakes were made. I didn’t even notice until I’d done about 7 or 8 shirts but apparently I hadn’t cleaned the screen out enough from the test prints so I had lost a few details here and there. Like whole letters and stuff. But I kept on going, but no matter how hard I pressed I couldn’t get the print to be as good as I wanted. The best I could come up with was some kind of “American Eagle” faux vintage look. I SHOULD have left it like that, but that wouldn’t be my style. I have to take things one step too far. I always do this. So I took out a paintbrush and tried to fix a few of the worse parts in the shirts, mostly on the front breast pocket logo. The mistake was not thinking that there would be a texture difference in the screen printed ink and the brushed on ink, especially with silver ink. So now the brushed on parts still look like they’re wet. But I’m sure everyone will think they look fine and they’ll age well anyway.

This year I think I did 7 XLs dark blue, 1 L dark blue, 2 small dark blue, 1 large dark green, 1 kids large dark blue, 1 kids small hunter green, and 2 large special edition lime green. All have silver ink (it’s the hotness) 15 shirts. not bad.