Screenprinting at AIR!

I don’t know where the suggestion came from (I suspect it was hatched by Joe and Jesse) but a few of us met at AIR on Tuesday night for a crash course in screen printing.

Per Joe’s suggestion, Josh and I stopped at Kinko’s to print my design on a transparency (only 81 cents!) and we were off. I also hear that you can print a transparency at AIR, but I since I had zero idea what I was in for, I figured I could at least sort of appear prepared.

The building is huge, and we camped out on the 3rd floor. Joe showed us the ropes, which I will poorly replicate here:

  1. Put your transparency on the giant table with bulbs under it. Put magic screen on top of transparency. Cover screen with giant black thing, then top all with weights.
  2. Click timer to 4 minutes. The bulbs come on with all the power of the sun, so scram so you don’t go blind.
  3. After light clicks off, spray the heck out of the screen. Exposing the magic screen to light hardens where ever your design isn’t, so when you spray the screen your design pops out. Rinse until bubbles are gone, spray with air, then chat while it dries in front of a fan.
  4. Lay screen in workspace, tape any holes and possibly the edges.
  5. Scoop that delicious ink on to the screen. AIR actually has some you can use, which is nice. I’ve been told it’s mostly gray, which is cool, but I was lucky enough to stumble onto some lime green, yippee.
  6. After putting your material under the screen, pull the fancy squeegee toward you and push your ink through your design.
  7. Lift screen. Squeal like preteen.


Here’s the original file in Illustrator. I had about a minute to throw this baby together and burn it to CD before I was going to miss my bus. It was just a thought bubble and skull at first, but I had like 15 seconds where I was just fiddling my thumbs — hence the horns and fang- mandible-things.

…and here’s the final art on my hat. I’m not exactly sure what it is that I’m thinking about, but rest assured it is sufficiently eeeevil. I did a shirt, too, which I figure will be appropriate to wear when I have a tummy ache.

The facility, AIR, was really great, too. According their website:

AIR is an artist-run organization that integrates the production of fine art printwork with innovative educational programs that explore the creative process. AIR provides print and imaging services to professional artists and educators. Our goal is to maintain an active and vital imaging laboratory that supports artists and facilitates creative activity.

And, via my personal endorsement: it’s righteous.

The staff was polite and helpful, and the three hours of fun we had only cost $5 since you pay by the screen. It’s open to the public from 7pm to 12am on Tuesdays. Plus, there were past projects hung all over the wall, which was really inspiring. Next week: two colors!