I volunteered to head-up the t-shirt making activity for my family’s reunion, thinking that custom hand-painted shirts (by us) would be fun for a change. A friend of mine, who likes do-it-yourself-on-the-cheap kinds of things, introduced me to a low-tech version of silkscreening that I’ve been itching to try for months, so here was my chance.
Instead of the traditional silkscreen fabric and frames, embroidery hoops and synthetic curtain-type material are used, or any synthetic fabric that has a fine but fairly open regular weave. The design is created by painting a negative of the image to to be printed in Mod Podge (a white glue/painting medium found at craft stores) directly onto the stretched fabric. Once the glue is dry, the ink is drawn across the ‘screen’ with a squeegee (or a small piece of cardboard) to fill in the open holes, then printed with the hoop pressed against the printing surface (in our case t-shirts) and a second pass of the squeegee. To see how the method worked, I found a number of tutorials on the internet, including you-tube videos, that explained or demonstrated the process in detail, and the rest just took a little practice.
Embroidery hoops and old curtains can be found at many thrift stores, which I did, and the the ink or paint and Mod Podge are the only new items that need to be purchased, making this a fairly inexpensive project. One of my cousins got us a deal on the bright blue shirts for our event, and he happened to have a real silkscreen sitting in his basement, so we got to try printing both ways. I painted a few of the screens with the designs in Mod Podge to get us going, but I also let a couple of the kids make their own designs of things that reminded them of our reunion. We ended up with a pictures of a crab, a group of happy beach-combing kids, and a starfish with airplane, as well as Starr words.
Thanks to Christiana for the wonderful photographs of the printing session, and to Joel for the stroke of genius use of the Star Wars font (and hands-down the most popular design option!). Thanks also to all of the willing set-up, printing, & clean-up assistants, and all of you who jumped in and decorated your own shirts–with flair, I might add!
What a fun way to remember our time together, and now if only I could get my boys to take theirs off…