How to Make an Exposing Frame for Silk Screen Printing With Photo Emulsion

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Using photo emulsion is the best way to transfer art to a silkscreen for printing. Here’s how to make a simple contact unit to expose your image onto the silk screen using the sun.

Build the Contact Unit

Steps:

  1. Measure the inside “well” of the silk-screen frame. If your frame has been constructed using 2-by-2s, cut a piece of 3-inch-thick foam rubber to fit inside the well of the frame, leaving 1/2 inch of space between the foam and the frame.
  2. Attach a set of clamp hinges to one end of a piece of plywood that is 2 inches larger all the way around than the screen frame. (Image 1)
  3. Attach a simple door latch on the opposite end that will hook into an eye hook on the screen frame. Determine the position of the latch by attaching the screen frame to the hinges, well-side down (flat-side up), and lower it onto the plywood base.
  4. Attach an eyehook into the screen frame at the opposite end from the hinges. Insert the latch into the eye hook and mark the position of the screw holes on the plywood base. Screw in the latch.
  5. Get a piece of clear, 1/4-inch plate glass cut to the size of the silk-screen frame. For safety, tape the edges of the plate glass all the way around with 2-inch duct tape, so that 1 inch of the tape wraps around the edge of the glass on both sides.

Use the Contact Unit

Steps:

  1. Attach the screen frame to the clamp hinges well-side down.
  2. Insert the foam into the well of the screen frame.
  3. Lock down the frame by using the door latch, thus creating tension on the top area of the screen.
  4. Place the art to be exposed on top of the screen.
  5. Place the plate glass over the art. The weight of the glass should be sufficient to provide good contact with the emulsion on the screen.

Overall Warnings:
Be careful not to break the glass.
Do not try to pick up the contact unit by yourself; it will be heavy.