We sometimes can be kind of dorky. I’ve learned to embrace it. Team Lava-Stick is definitely one of our sillier creations. Here’s the story. For the past several years, Paul and I have run road races with my brother and sister-in-law. We began joking that we should have a name for our awesome running foursome, so Team Lava-Stick (a perfect combination of our two last names) was born. Over time, we thought we should have a logo. “Yeah, it could be a volcano with flaming sticks coming out of it!” Then we talked about having running shirts with the logo on it. Really? Yup. Definitely.When we all decided we would run the Maine Half Marathon this year, I figured I’d throw all fashion sense completely to the wind and go ahead and make the shirts. Our sister-in-law was able to get some fancy Nike technical shirts for us through her work connections, and it was my job to get our logo onto the shirts.
I’d done on the cheap at home screen printing before. For Tommy’s 4th birthday party I made Curious George t-shirts for all the partygoers. It was a fun (and really cute) project. I didn’t want to purchase proper screen printing supplies (because I’m a cheapskate at heart), so I did some online searching and cobbled together a do-it-yourself process that worked pretty well.For our race shirts, I stepped up my process by using 3 colors rather than just one. Only the best for Team Lava-Stick. That meant I needed three screens. Paul made some simple ones for me by cutting a window in squares of plywood.
For the screen fabric, I used organza that I had on hand. I cut pieces a few inches larger than the screen, stretched the fabric over the screen, and stapled on the back – making sure to pull the fabric taught. Super simple and inexpensive printing screens ready to go!The next step was to prepare the images. My d0-it-yourself technique uses contact paper that I cut into squares the size of my three screens. I taped my logo image onto a window so I could easily trace my design. For each color, I traced the corresponding parts of the logo onto its own square of contact paper. I had red for the flames and lava, brown for the volcano, and black for the lettering.Next, I used an x-acto knife to cut out the images from the contact paper.Once all the images were cut, I peeled away the backing on the contact paper and stuck each one onto the outside surface of each screen.To make sure nothing moved around, I placed masking tape all around the edges of the contact paper.Also, to prevent ink from bleeding under the screen when printing, I used masking tape all along the inside edge of the screen.Once all three screens were done, I was ready to print. (You’ll notice the lettering is different in this picture. I ended up re-doing that screen after doing a test shirt – sorry Sam – because I didn’t like how it was printing.) Before adding any ink, I placed a piece of paper inside each shirt to prevent any ink from soaking through. First, I chose the color at the top of my image (red) and globbed some screen printing ink (my only official screen printing purchase) above the image on the inside surface of the corresponding screen. I placed the screen on the shirt in the position where I wanted the image. Then, I used a putty knife to draw the ink over the surface of the screen. Down only – I did not scrape the ink back up across the screen. I just picked up the extra ink and re-deposited it back at the top of the screen for the next shirt.Then, I carefully lifted up the screen. Voila! Ink on shirt. Once I inked the red onto all the shirts, I let them dry.Once dry, I repeated the process with brown and then black, making sure the ink was completely dry between color changes. It was challenging to line up the images exactly where they needed to be with each of the different colors, but it was doable with careful work (and finger-crossing).The last step was to heat set the ink with an iron so the image would be permanent.The weather for the Maine Half Marathon was far from perfect: 50 degree temperatures with driving rain, but we all ran the race and managed to have some fun as well.Has anyone else done do-it-yourself screen printing using a different method? Or similar method? I’d be interested in hearing about (and seeing) your process!