Week 43, 2014 – Make Cool Shirts, Phase One

Screenprinting Workspace

My Ryonet DIY Starter Press, bolted to table in the kitchen. With a 20×26″ t-shirt/sign platen, and 20×24″ 156 mesh screen.

Well, I finally got my ass in gear and started working on things. It wasn’t easy. The apartment is still congested, and I can’t get to anything (Seriously, you don’t even want to know what it looked like behind the camera, let alone in any other room.)

Before I give you a tour of the gear, lemme run you through a quick print I did.  This screen didn’t turn out well, it was under-exposed for whatever reason, but since I knew this wasn’t really a ‘keeper’, I mostly did this to buck myself up by doing something productive, as well as to show my mother– who had come by –the process (Not that she didn’t know, both my parents had been making silkscreens long before they’d made me), and finally, to take photos for a montage to use as banners on the MAKE COOL SHIRTS YouTube channel and Twitter account.


It looks fine, but according to the Stouffer scale, it’s two steps under-exposed… Meaning I should double the exposure. That’s what I get for using a thick piece of glass to hold down the film positive, I guess…



Green Galaxy ‘Comet White’, a water-based white ink that behaves and performs more like a plastisol. PVC-free, phthalate-free, water-based, and eco-friendly…and yet it lays down a perfect opaque white, even on black garments! w00t!



It’s a really creamy ink, and it’s a wonder to work with… And even as thick as it is, it seems I need a higher mesh-count screen 305, perhaps? I shall have to ponder this, and other questions!



The print is pulled!

I’m printing these fliers on this nifty 80lb cover cardstock, in recycled Kraft. I have it in 8.5×11″ and 11×17″.  I plan to use this stock for the hangtags for the shirts.  It’s also available in 70 Text in those sizes, as well as in 46pt chipboard.


A print. Not perfect, but pretty good. Maybe I should mask off ‘quality’ until I’ve got the hang of this, lololol

Recent acquisitions over the last couple months from Ryonet (By way of Silkscreeningsupplies.com) include: Additional 16×20″ 156 mesh wood screens, 20×24″ and screens in 230 mesh as well as 156 mesh.  A proper 16×16″ T-Shirt platen (It has a neck that centers the shirt), the 20×26″ combo T-Shirt/Sign platen, and platen brackets, so that with a turn of a knob they’re quick-changeable.  That neat-o blindingly-green tape you see on the screen in 2″ and 3″ widths. The 16″ scoop-coater, and 15″ squeegee I need for 20×24″ screens.  And I think that’s about it… Oh wait, no.  I got a flip-fold! :D


The first four Green Galaxy water-based screenprinting inks.

The first four Green Galaxy water-based screenprinting inks.

You can see here the first four colors of Green Galaxy water-based ink; Comet White, Pitch Black, Mars Red, and Neptune Blue.  It’s been almost a year since Green Galaxy Comet White (Water-based) and Meteor White (Plastisol) were released, and then almost half a year ago, Black, Red, and Blue water-based, and Black plastisol. (‘Black Matter’, is the plastisol black.) A couple months ago, a Green Galaxy water-based ink ‘core’ became available in both opaque and transparent, for mixing with pigments, like the Ryonet R20 CMS, which lets you mix any Pantone color.  And now, just last week, NINE additional colors hit the store.  I need roughly $200 to pick up a quart of each. :|

As you can see, they’re very nice! Speaking of Ryonet, this is my ‘DIY Starter Press’ that I bought last December.

The DIY Starter Press

DIY Starter Press from Ryonet/SilkscreeningSupplies.com, with original platen removed.

A couple weeks ago, I finally got some proper platens and I was able to remove the original 16×16 square platen. (Seen on the table behind it, I’m using it as a clean/bright surface for working with my film positives.) On the floor on the right, you can see the 20×26″ hybrid shirt/poster platen I bought, with bracket.  There’s also the 16×16″ shirt platen.

16x16" shirt platen, installed on the DIY Starter Press, via bracket.

16×16″ shirt platen, installed on the DIY Starter Press, via bracket.

The brackets are just so handy. With a turn of the knob, you can switch platens. (Or adjust the position of a shirt platen.) I want to get an 18×18″ XL shirt platen, a sleeve/pant-leg platen, and a pocket platen… Then I should have all my bases covered… At least until I purchase my first multi-station press, and have to buy additional ones of everything. ;)  The advantage of the 16×16 shirt platen over the regular 16×16″ platen is that the ‘neck’ centers the shirt. The 20×26″ platen is pretty cool, too. Besides being big enough to do quite a few different standard poster sizes, it really stretches shirts out flat.  Perfect for doing ‘all-over’ printing.

A photomerge I did of four shots of the little 'supply' area to the left of the table, situated around the laundry drier.

A photomerge I did of four shots of the little ‘supply’ area to the left of the table, situated around the laundry drier.

Ah yes, all my supplies… Tape, squeegees, frames, screens, screen mesh, inks, mixing containers, exposure lamp, etc.  I have Speedball 10×14″ screens, Blick 10×14″ frames, Blick 12×18″ frames, in the rack there, are two burned 16×20″ frames from Ryonet.  Up on the shelf, I have my scoop-coaters, 6, 9, 11, and 16 inches, a heavy-duty garbage bag (Double, actually) with the other two unexposed 16×20″ screens in it, and a small stack of shirts. Speaking of shirts– and those of you with sharp eyes may have noticed that one of them seems out of place…  Well, that’s because it’s been printed already.

A 'Taito Station' arcade shirt, for myself.

A ‘Taito Station’ arcade shirt, for myself.

So I took a nice big 100% cotton Fruit of The Loom, and printed the Taito Station logo on it, hoping to elicit the feeling of the amazingly large facade on the arcade’s Akihabara location. (Photo is obviously a bit staged, I printed it a couple weekends ago, before the new platens. So I put it on the press to take this picture.)

I think that about does it for now, if I think of anything else, it’ll go in the next post!

5 Responses to Week 43, 2014 – Make Cool Shirts, Phase One

  1. This post was awesome, i liked the process, i have the same press, the only thing i noticed where the screen is clamped, there is a pretty big gap underneath right where the platen starts(between the screen and platen) a lot of off contact then the gap gradually gets smaller as it goes down the platen.

    • Wow, my first comment that isn’t spam… Literally one out of thousands! ;D

      Off contact is a tricky thing, and I by no means know hardly what I’m doing as I’m still just a beginner…

      However, I’ve found that the easiest thing to do is loosen all the adjustments, and lay something the thickness of the desired off contact distance on the platen. (I use aluminium sheet, as I have plenty of that lying around.) Then it’s a simple matter to get the screen to lay flat on top of it, and then tighten all the adjustments back up.

      Even then, sometimes the screen is just really heavy, especially with these big wood frames, and you’ll want to maybe tape a little square of cardboard or a couple washers or something in the middle of the far end to help maintain the off contact distance. (Doing stuff like resting your squeegee on the far end like in my picture doesn’t help matters either.)

  2. Haha good ol spam! And i actually ended up figuring it out! Not too long after riding on your post. I like green galaxy comet white, idk about green galaxy pitch black, i’m using 165 mesh screen and is eating ink like crazy. Have you printed a lot with it?

    • Not as yet, mostly just white. I have most of the GG colors now, too. I haven’t been getting to work on the printing as much as I’d like, especially with the weather; it’s been murderously hot lately. That whole end of the apartment barely cools down to tolerable temps in the middle of the night. So I’ve been working on electronics and 3D printing, which is all at the other end of the apartment, where the AC manages to keep things cool-ish. (I have 6 months worth of updates about that stuff pending in draft form because I need to process a massive backlog of photos for them…)

      I know that the GG black is very very thin compared to the white though, the other colors aren’t as thin, but white is definitely the thickest.

  3. A great run through of the package. Greatly appreciated and it gives me a little more confidence in my choice. Now I need to figure out how to follow you. Still active?

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