Screen printing gifts
July 3, 2010 1:03 PM   Subscribe

Any small gifts I could give to a friend to encourage her new screen printing hobby? Bonus: looking for Chicago shops that might help with this.

My friend has just recently begun printing her own t-shirts with some equipment that another friend gave to her (a frame and some inks). I think she's a fantastic designer and I would like to encourage this hobby.

Are there any other screen printing accessories or pieces of equipment that she might enjoy? I'd like to keep it under $20 if possible.

Also, if any Chicagoans know where I might go searching for a gift like this, that would be immensely helpful.
posted by Team of Scientists to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Speedball (brand name) has a really wonderful soup to nuts set of instructions on silkscreening that easily pops up with a dedicated search.

Go to the Blick Artists Materials website and enter silkscreen, and all of their accoutrements will present themselves. You can order online or visit a local Blick outlet.
posted by effluvia at 2:01 PM on July 3, 2010

Former screen printing shop owner here.

Do not buy anything Speedball besides ink. Actually 90% of the stuff that art stores sell (including Blick) is garbage and a waste of money. Usually when art stores do happen to sell decent supplies, they are ordering the same stuff you could get and marking it up 100%. Art stores are just not a great place to buy printmaking supplies in general.

I'm sure there's probably a supply house near Chicago but I'm not aware of any, you might want to try Midwest Screen Supply or Victory Factory whom I've ordered from a lot and always had a good experience.


-A decent screen. Get an aluminum frame that's been professionally stretched, and it will last her years. I see Victory Factory has 23x31 with 110 mesh for $23 which is a good deal. That's a pretty big size, and 110 is what she wants for t-shirts.

-"jiffy" clamps - useful for building your own presses (there are numerous vacuum table/shirt press/etc. plans floating around the internet)

-a scoop coater to fit the inside dimension of whatever size screens she's using. This will make a huge difference if she's trying to squeegee emulsion on now. Usually about $1-2 per inch.

-a good emulsion if she's using something awful (ie. Speedball or any two-part diazo emulsion which is what most art stores sell). I like Ulano QTX and it's about $35 for a quart. Exposes fast, holds good detail, and works with solvent or water based inks.

-blockout pens for filling in screen pinholes are always useful, usually <>
-ink, you can never have enough. Or extender base (which is sort of like unpigmented ink - it extends your ink and saves you a ton of money - a gallon is not that expensive)
posted by bradbane at 2:37 PM on July 3, 2010 [4 favorites]

I would suggest getting your friend some interesting ink colors. Use the excellent advice above on getting quality ink. When I was screenprinting in school, my biggest limitation was the generic colors the school had available, and would have bought my own if I weren't a broke college student.
posted by malapropist at 4:05 PM on July 3, 2010

Screenprinter here.
Don't get Speedball. Poor quality ingredients lead to frustration and wasted Tshirts. Quality ink is the difference between printing your resume on a dot matrix printer vs laser printer. Possible, but you'll notice the difference.

I would appreciate: a set of clamps, a scoop coater, extender base. These are all under $20. You can screenprint without them but it's much easier.

It's a thoughtful gesture, too. It's always great to be supported when starting a new art hobby/practice.
posted by sambiamb at 10:48 PM on July 3, 2010

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