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How do I silkscreen 350 cotton bags?

 
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How would I go about silk screening my logo on 300+ cotton bags?  And maybe more if things go well.
Is it hard?

Is it possible?  

Can I do it without decoupage? That stuff stinks.
 
pollinator
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I've worked at a screen printing shop and I'd say your project depends on how much money you want to sink into it. There are some very low cost DIY setups, but the screen and your resist (what you're using to block the pores of your screen in areas you don't want print) would not likely hold up that long. You could always make multiples or just re-do it your screen. Minimum input is screen, frame, squeegee, emulsion, a printer for your design, and some high powered light bulbs to "burn" the emulsion off the screen where you want ink to go through.

Depending on how complex your design is, have you considered a stencil? If that works then you could make things real easy and just get a little paint roller to roll over your stencil.
 
r ranson
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In high school, we did silk screen printing.  I don't remember a lot of it, but we used something that reacted to light.  So it might be the burn emulsion you're mentioning?  It's been so long I don't remember.

The design is quite complicated but I was going to simplify it a little bit.  I want to make the total print size about 2.5" square and have my web address included.  But it's too complex for a stencil.

There's only one colour (black or brown) which makes life easier (I think my high school one had 6 colours).

The big thing is, I want to be able to use the same screen many times.  Maybe do batches of one hundred every few months.  Probably more in the winter when it's raining.  
 
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If I had a complex design that I'm making very small (with text) I'd go for an iron on transfer printed on an inkjet printer. You can get the detail easily, and it's quick to iron them on, and it's done. Lower tech, not as snazzy as silk screen, but easier on the design process and better graphics.
 
r ranson
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Pearl Sutton wrote:If I had a complex design that I'm making very small (with text) I'd go for an iron on transfer printed on an inkjet printer. You can get the detail easily, and it's quick to iron them on, and it's done. Lower tech, not as snazzy as silk screen, but easier on the design process and better graphics.



Oh, that's an idea.  
I think I want to explore silkscreen first to see how much it costs.
 
r ranson
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I had to pick some stuff up from the art supply shop today.  It looks like it costs a little over CA$100 to get started with the silkscreen printing I want to do and about CA$20 more per screen.  Which makes me think that it makes economic sense to do a few different silkscreen projects at once as the chemicals only last 4 months from when started.

But it looks easier than I expected.

Going to have to think more about this.
 
pollinator
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Speedball used to sell kits for like $40 USD, but a cursory search only turned up deluxe kits for like $100 USD.  Kind of a bummer that they don't have lower price points anymore.  I personally haven't done any printing in almost 10 years, but in the past I've done t-shirts, patches, and onesies (one- and two-color only, and nothing requiring precision).  It's one of those things I loved doing and wonder why I stopped.  It really is super easy, although the actual printing part is a two-person job (though you can make or buy set-ups where the screen is on a hinge and clips down to hold it in place).

You can buy extra screen material and reuse the same frame, so you could make multiple designs while the chemicals are still fresh and just put the screens back in the frame as needed.  It's not easy to get them tight after you've taken them out and put them back in, but it can be done (it's just like fixing a screen door; a splining tool helps).  You can make your own frames, too, and just staple the fabric to them like you would a painting canvas.  I think there's a way to remove the emulsion after it's been set so you can reuse the screens, but I don't remember the process.
 
r ranson
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The woman in the shop was really good.  
They still sell the cheep kits, but they are using a stencil or painting on a resist.  Neither of which would work for my complex logo.  
With the photosensitive method, I can reuse the screen hundreds of times which makes me happy!  

There is a fluid that comes with the starter set to refresh the screen, but it helps to have a pressure washer to get all the holes clear.  
 
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It's great that you're excited about screenprinting, and if that's working for you, cool.  Screenprinting is fun.  But I want to reinforce the suggestion above to consider stencils.  Here are some advantages of acrylic paint and stencils over screenprinting:

Screens wear out over time.  Stencils, depending, can last decades.

Screen printing uses volatile chemicals that don't give you much warning that they've gone bad.  Acrylic paint, properly stored.... well, I have some from the sixties that I use.  

Screen printing gives you one color.  Stencils, you can lay down a color but also swirl in different colors, or metallics, or drybrush edging or accent colors....

Screen printing costs a hundred dollars.  Stencils and acrylic costs six dollars.

Screenprinting requires a fairly flat surface.  Stencils can be used on burlap, coarse weave, heck even a bunch of sticks knitted together.

I have t-shirts that I stenciled in high school, which was *cough* thirty years ago *cough*  that I've washed for three decades and the paint is still fine.  The shirts are faded though.


 
Rob Lineberger
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Oh also wanted to add, you can cut a stamp and mount it to wood, then use a roller on that, and basically stamp out those 350 bags in a few hours.  Depending on the needed detail, you can cut the stamp yourself, like a woodcut for example.  You can 3d print one, or laser etch one if you have that kind of access. You can get very detailed with stamps.  Just remember to reverse the image.
 
r ranson
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The logo is very complex, has many fine lines and details.  It would be a modified version of the attached.

If there's a stencil that can achieve this kind of detail on fabric at about 2" large, can you let me know?  I choose photo-emulsion silkscreen because it can do fine detail.

crowing-hen-farm-logo-1.jpg
[Thumbnail for crowing-hen-farm-logo-1.jpg]
 
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For a project like this I might consider relief printing using a durable design material like wood or linoleum. Perhaps not applicable easily to the design proffered, but certainly could produce a more “wood cut” like design, provide durability for many printings and be cheap.
Making a linoleum block print
6385E767-B6FF-4F93-BB76-9F35F6C27817.jpeg
[Thumbnail for 6385E767-B6FF-4F93-BB76-9F35F6C27817.jpeg]
 
r ranson
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James Whitelaw wrote:For a project like this I might consider relief printing using a durable design material like wood or linoleum. Perhaps not applicable easily to the design proffered, but certainly could produce a more “wood cut” like design, provide durability for many printings and be cheap.
Making a linoleum block print



It's a good idea.  I thought about it.
I don't have the dexterity to carve anymore.  
 
Rob Lineberger
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Nothing wrong with silk screening. Just didn't want you to dismiss acrylics too fast.  If what you are working with is flat, then you're right that gives you more detail than the stencil.
 
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