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Screen Printing on Glass

Here's the easy way to learn to screen print (some say silk screen) on glass.  All it takes is a few small items and an hour or two of practice. 

Purchase a kit for screen printing t-shirts.  In the US, these are made by Speedball and should cost around $50.  The kit contains ink, a squeegee, and a screen, complete with frame and all necessary chemicals and instructions. 

Set the ink aside. It's not made for printing on glass, but you can use it for t-shirts if you wish.  Instead of the ink, you'll need to use glass enamels.  Any brand of enamel will work, so long as it is compatible with the glass you're using.  An oil based enamel (like Paradise Paints) tends to work better than most water based mixtures. 

Now follow the directions in the kit.  The ones from Speedball give you information on screen printing using three different techniques, ranging from drawing on the screen to using photo sensitizer to make simple images on glass.  The kit is capable of rendering detail as fine as 12 point lettering, and multi-color screens are possible.  Everything you need is included, except that for the photo process you'll need to buy a special kind of light bulb from a photography shop.

In addition to using enamels instead of the ink provided in the kit, the main adjustment to the standard instructions is to make sure you allow for the thickness of the glass when setting up and pulling your screens.

That's it.  The directions (here's an online pdf: http://speedballart.com/pdf/Screen_Printing_Instructions.pdf) are straightforward and tell you just about everything you need to know.  As you get more experienced with screen printing, you may want to invest in better tools, equipment, and chemicals but the Speedball kit is an inexpensive way to get started and see if you're interested enough to invest in other screen printing alternatives.

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Copyright 2005 Brad Walker.  All rights reserved.

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