One of the techniques we specialize in here at TLW is silkscreen printing. Dana and I both do this ourselves by using the home-office sized Yudu screen printer. I was originally tuned into the Yudu when someone told me, “it’s a screen printer that outputs from your computer.” That left me with the impression that I could draw some graphics, plug the Yudu into my laptop, hit “print” and get an amazingly perfect original screenprint. Ha!
The reality is a bit more hands-on, but it does begin with a computer (at least in most cases.) For my 2010 holiday cards, I wanted to silkscreen a design inspired by my Northern California life onto some awesome French Paper. I also decided to print my cards two-to-a-sheet to save time. I drew my illustration in black (in this case a redwood Christmas tree) in Adobe Illustrator and printed the page on an 8.5x11" transparency sheet.
The next steps involved burning the screen. Basically, the screen is a fine-knit silk net held taut by a frame. I needed to coat an area the size of my printed page in light-sensitive emulsion, which kinda clogs up the “holes” in the screen. Where I did want the silk to remain uncoated were the areas I wanted the ink to go through and print, in this case, my illustrations.
The Yudu comes with sheets of emulsion material, so I stuck a sheet to my screen (which has to be done with the screen wet, and then you wait for it all to dry in the dark.) After that, I placed my black-and-clear transparency with the illustration printed on it beneath the emulsified screen, popped the lid into the Yudu and turned the “expose” light on. It’s kinda like an Easy Bake Oven for crafty grownups. Once the timer was up, I had my graphics burned out of the emulsion as negative space on my screen.
Time to print! After aligning my sheet of paper beneath the graphics on my screen, I needed to “flood” the screen with water-based ink. In this case, I chose to work with a pearlescent white (printed on Jelly Bean Green paper). I basically slabbed a generous amount of ink along the top of the graphics (in my case with a frosting knife because I have no better use for kitchen utensils) and then “dragged” the ink across the screen with a hard-edged squeegee. You want to be sure you coat your entire design in ink. During this step, I was holding the screen up above the paper – not pressing the ink onto the page just yet.
Now I needed to press the ink onto the paper itself. I simply closed the Yudu lid with the screen snapped in down on the paper and carefully squeeeeeeeegeed (with my orange rubber squeegee) the flooded ink through the screen, onto the page. Voilà!
I completed the process by running the dried prints through my inkjet to place the Three Little Words logo on the back, trimmed them to size and wrote personal messages to my recipients in pearly white ink. I also made a custom stamp and heat-embossed our return address on the back of end-loading Paper Bag #10 Envelopes from Paper Source. The entire look was completed with the new pinecone Forever Stamps from USPS!