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Screen Printing Part 1 - Making a repeating pattern

I want to make some printed papers for various things, and thought I'd do a bit of screen printing onto paper and also fabric.

A little while ago I tried some screen printing onto paper along with some lino printing. This was an experiment, and worked well but was a little messy.

I recently bought some screens in bulk and if you've never screen printed before, this is what they look like when they arrive.

I like to use duct tape to put a waterproof edge around the inside of the screen. This acts as a well for excess paint.

Having prepared my screens, I now need to make a mask to print through. If you're doing this as a repeating pattern, then here's how you do that.

On a large piece of paper mark out the shape of your printing area. (You can do this by putting the paper under the screen and adding a dot of marker pen through the screen in all 4 corners).

Remove the paper and mark out your printing area and cut out. Fill the paper inside these marks with pattern. Keep the pattern away from the edges of the paper.

You can see here (above) that the pattern is concentrated in the middle. I'm using leaves but of course it could be anything you like.

Measure and cut carefully in 2 vertically. It needs to be as clean a cut as you can.

Turn the halves around so the outsides meet in the middle.

Can you see the spaces that were on the outside, are now in the middle.

You'll need to turn over and tape along the whole length of the paper to join these 2 halves. If you don't do the length of the paper, your printing ink will be able to get through the gaps.

Turn the paper back to the drawn on side.

This time cut horizontally through the paper to make 2 halves again.

Do exactly the same as the first time - turn the halves around so that the outsides are towards the middle. Turn over and tape along the length of the paper.

This will leave you with a piece of paper which may look like this, with space in the middle and cut shapes at the edges.

I've used my template (pictured) to simply draw round and make more shapes to fill the middle of the paper. It's important not to go over the outside edges at any point.

Here's the finished pattern.  When this is printed it will repeat over whatever size I choose.

Because I want to use my paper pattern as a screen mask to print through, I'm cutting out the leaf shapes

Here you can see the cut out paper in place at the bottom of the screen. I have gently taped the mask to the screen in a couple of places just to keep it still when I take the first print.

My mask has been cut to the printing size of my screen right at the start. If yours is larger, either place on a table and lower the screen into position - you'll be able to see through the mesh to align it properly, and tape. If you prefer you can simply place it over whatever you've chosen to print on (paper or fabric) and then add the screen on top loaded with paint. The first run through of the paint will "stick" the screen to the mask.

I'll explain that more with pictures in part 2!

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