Making a silk screen press is actually a relatively easy activity to do. But what is a silk screen press in the first place? It is part of the equipment for your screen printing supplies that you would use to design your own T-shirt print. That means once you’ve mastered the art of doing T-shirt screen printing at home, then you could ideally put into any of your old shirts virtually any design that you would like. That means goodbye to shelling out big bucks for a hard-to-find Star Wars shirt design – you could print it on any old shirt of your own, for free!
The silk screen press can be described like this: it is basically a circular, square or rectangular wooden frame, with fabric stretched taut against it. So how do you make one? One of the easiest ways to go about this would be to buy an embroidery hoop, which is available at most sewing and crafts stores. This embroidery hoop is composed of two circular wooden frames, with one a little bit smaller than the other. These two wooden hoops are attached alongside each other, although you could separate them by loosening the screw that binds them together.
To make a silk screen press using an embroidery hoop, simply detach the two circular hoops. Place the fabric over the smaller hoop, making sure that the fabric is taut over the entire area of the hoop. To secure the fabric in place, take the larger hoop and lock it once more with the smaller hoop. Now your fabric is firmly in place, secured by the two hoops. Cut off the excess fabric. That’s your silk screen!
Another way of making your silk screen press, or your screen printer, is to use an old picture frame instead of an embroidery hoop. Just remember to remove each and every little metal bit that would protrude from the frame, and to put the glass away (make sure that you store it properly). Now that you’re only left with the frame itself, you will just basically do the same thing you did with the embroidery hoop: put the fabric over the frame, stretch it over to the edges - making sure that the fabric is taut - and then staple it to secure. Cut off the excess fabric.
A word about the fabric to use: make sure that the fabric is just the right balance between being loosely woven enough to let the ink pass through, and tight enough so it won’t tear or warp easily. The fabric you use should also be plain, with absolutely no printed pattern or design on it already, to make sure that nothing would interfere would the design that you are planning to print. Ideal fabrics that you could use include silk (hence the term, silk screen printing), nylon, polyester, or other silk-like fabrics such as scarves.
Apart from the silk screen press, other materials that you would use to make your own T-shirt design would include the design you would want to imprint on your shirt (cut out on acrylic paper), fabric ink, and a sort of squeegee that you would use to brush the fabric ink all over the cut-out design. You could collect all these materials separately, or you can purchase screen printing kits available at craft stores. You would also need a hairdryer to dry your design once it's been printed, and some scissors.
There you have it! Start first with making designs for your own shirts, and then consider doing this as a business once you’ve gotten the hang of it. Good luck, and have fun!