Silkscreen printing is a popular method for creating beautiful, highly detailed images on pottery. The cheapest way to make silkscreens is by using drawing fluid and screen filler. This technique will not give you the same detail as using a cricut or photo emulsion, but if your penny pinching it will still work. This method is perfect for beginners and experienced artists alike.
Before you begin, you will need to gather the following materials:
- A silkscreen with wooden frame (Amazon)
- Drawing fluid (available through speedball)
- Screen filler (available through speedball)
- A squeegee
- A paintbrush
- A design to print (available on my website)
- Masking tape
- Silkscreen Medium
Here are the steps to make a silkscreen using drawing fluid and screen filler:
- Prepare your materials: Clean the silkscreen thoroughly with water and a non-abrasive brush. Dry the screen completely. This silkscreen should be attached to a wooden silkscreen frame.
- Apply the drawing fluid: This is where you can use a design available on my website. Place your silkscreen on a flat surface with the silkscreen mesh farthest away from the table. You are essentially flipping your silkscreen frame so its “upside down.” Place your design under the silkscreen on the table. You can now use this as a guide to trace on the silkscreen with your paintbrush. Using the paintbrush, apply the drawing fluid to the areas of the screen where you want your design to appear. Allow the drawing fluid to dry completely. *On a side note: I have had success taping the design to the underside of the silkscreen so it’s closer and easier to trace, but you have to be cautious of the paper getting stuck, or the fluid bleeding.
- Apply the screen filler: Once the drawing fluid is dry, use a squeegee to apply the screen filler over the entire screen. This will create a barrier that will prevent underglaze from passing through the areas covered by the screen filler. * Another side note: As a potter I understand wastage being annoying. With this method you are using a big silkscreen and generally smaller designs. It is better to fit as many designs as possible in the screen to save money on materials.
- Let the screen filler dry: Allow the screen filler to dry completely. This should take about an hour.Rinse the screen: Rinse the screen thoroughly with water. The areas covered by the drawing fluid should wash away, leaving only the design covered by the screen filler.
- Print your design: Remove your finished design from the wooden silkscreen holder and cut it out. Then you won’t have a bunch of excess mesh getting in the way.
- slip trailing
- underglaze transfers
- relief carving
- Underglaze painting
Silkscreen printing with drawing fluid and screen filler is a fun and cheap way to create designs for your ceramics. With a little practice, the options become endless. Check out my other blogs to learn more about different ways to transfer designs.