Wednesday, July 23, 2014

styrofoam block print tshirts

one of my first projects of summer was to design a logo for my art room and use it to create a tshirt.  my love of styrofoam block printing is no secret (you can see former projects here and here) so i thought why not try it on tshirts.   i don't know about you, but i dig it!

for the tshirt printing part, i used scratch-foam board, speedball fabric block printing ink, and a brayer.  you will also need something hard and smooth to put on the inside of the shirt.  i used an extra shelf we had left over from a bookshelf.

before i printed anything on fabric, i did a test print with standard block printing ink on card stock to make sure my design was carved well.  the print was actually pretty cool, so i put it in an old frame i had so i can hang it at school.  i also did a test print with the fabric ink on an old tshirt i didn't care about before we used our blank shirts. 

my boys love designing their own tshirts, so i let them design one too.  first i had them draw a design on newsprint that was cut the same size as the styrofoam plate they would be using. 

with any kind of printing like this, you have to carve the design in reverse of the way you want it to print.  so after they drew their designs, i had them flip the paper over, put it on a lightbox, and go over the design in pencil again.  if you don't have a lightbox you can use a window in the daytime. 

then we taped the newsprint with the reverse image up to the styrofoam plate.  they used a pencil to go over the drawing, transferring it to the plate below.  once the design was transferred, they took the paper off and used the same pencil to recarve the lines on the plate.  you want to make sure you get the lines as deep as possible without puncturing through the styrofoam.

to print, roll the ink out flat on a slick surface using your brayer.  i use disposable palette paper for this.  then roll the fabric ink on the carved design.  turn the inked plate over, center it on the shirt, and press straight down.  i use an old rolling pin to roll over the back of the plate a few times to make sure it really gets pressed down.  roll very slowly and make sure you press straight down.  you don't want the plate to slide. 

pull the plate straight up to reveal your design.  let the shirt stay on the board until it is dry.  according to the instructions, you need to let the ink cure for one week at room temperature.  then you can wash it with mild soap and cool water.  i've already washed the boys' shirts a couple times and they are fine.

here's my 6 year old and his shark design...

and my 8 year old in his, well, i'm not exactly sure what that is.  i think he said it was inspired by scooby doo.  lol

the cool thing about block printing is you can wash the plate off and use it again.  i printed mine again using different colors...

and then tried it on an old plain canvas bag i had in my studio.  you can see there are a lot of possibilities!

i definitely think i see this as a future ellis art club project.

if you decide to try this, i would love to see what you make! 

here's to a handmade summer!


1 comment:

  1. These look a lot like silkscreen. Love it! Hope you are enjoying your back to school days.


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