Inky Boots
March 22, 2010 3:59 PM   Subscribe

Screen printing for very cheap. I have printer inks for pigment, what can I use for a medium/binder?

I have a shopping bag load of el knockoff printer inks. I don't have a pocket load of money. I assume the inks need bulking up.

Commercially available mediums for screen printing are available but I imagine it might be more economical to make my own.

If only I knew how.

So... any ideas?
posted by run"monty to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I once saw a tutorial for taping a piece of fabric to a piece of lightweight cardboard and printing on that. It didn't work so well with my cheap inkjet, but a printer that's made to handle heavier stock might do it.
posted by OLechat at 4:47 PM on March 22, 2010

Try egg white.
posted by flabdablet at 5:24 PM on March 22, 2010

Yes, I was thinking of giving egg tempera a go. Though I'm not sure if it would mix with the printer inks.
posted by run"monty at 5:43 PM on March 22, 2010

...ah, I see that egg tempera produces a water soluble paint.
posted by run"monty at 5:48 PM on March 22, 2010

I'm assuming this is for paper, rather than shirts?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:51 PM on March 22, 2010

What are you printing on? What works well for delicate designs on paper is not what works well for a T-shirt or - if the title of your question has anything to do with your project - what would work for canvas or leather boots. (Though, personally, I wouldn't consider using cheap printer ink and homemade medium for anything wear-able.)
posted by ubersturm at 8:31 PM on March 22, 2010

Watch out -- printer inks can be nasty to work with (ie. severely hazardous to your health), depending upon what you've got.
posted by schmod at 8:33 PM on March 22, 2010

Also, all the dye-based ones are water soluble, as far as I know. Some of the genuine Epson inks are pigment based, but all the cheap knockoffs are almost certain to be dyes.
posted by flabdablet at 8:36 PM on March 22, 2010

I'll be printing on paper. The mesh will likely be 110t or finer.
posted by run"monty at 2:30 AM on March 23, 2010

I've found this:


The paints described here for silk screen printing should have a shelf life of
several months when they are stored in jars with tight-fitting lids. The recipes
have been tried successfully in a temperate climate. Paints colored with powdered
tempera are more brilliant than those colored with food colors or ink. Other
water-soluble dyes can probably be used also.


Starch or cornstarch
Soap Flakes
Gelatin (optional)
Coloring matter (food color, tempera powder, ink, or a dye of some sort that is
water soluble)

Recipe #1

Linit starch (not instant) 115 ml (1/2 cup)
Boiling water 345ml (1 1/2 cup)
Soap flakes 115ml (1/2 cup)

Mix starch with enough cold water to make a smooth paste. Add boiling water
and cool until glossy. Stir in soap flakes while mixture is warm. When cool, add

Recipe #2

Cornstarch 57.5ml (1/4 cup)
Water 460ml (2 cups)
Soap flakes 29ml (1/8 cup)

Bring water to a boil. Mix cornstarch with a small amount of cold water and stir
the two together. Bring, to a boil and stir until thickened. Add soap flakes while
warm. Color.

This recipe produces paint that seems quite lumpy but this does not affect the
printing quality.

Recipe #3

Dissolve 115ml (1/2 cup) cornstarch in 172.5ml (3/4 cup) cold water

Dissolve 1 envelope gelatin (15ml or 1 tablespoon, unflavored) in 57.5ml (1/4 cup)
cold water

Heat 460ml (2 cups) of water, pour in cornstarch. Add dissolved gelatin. Boil, and
stir until thickened. Cool and add 115ml (1/2 cup) soap flakes. Color.

NOTE: Adding 5 to 10ml (1 to 2 teaspoons) of glycerine to any of these
recipes will make the paint easier to use.

Never let dried particles of paint get mixed into the paint or fall onto the screen
because they may puncture the silk during the printing. A small hole in the silk
can be repaired with a small drop of shellac.

posted by run"monty at 4:35 AM on March 23, 2010

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