Screen Printing: Question & Response Example

The following is a question with response submitted through the Contact Us form on the Catspit website. I thought it would be interesting to share with you some of the more well put together questions and their respective answers. Names have been removed for anonymity.

I am a "Garage Boy" who started screen printing for fun for my art and for stuff for family and friends. I am getting better each time I do it, and I am getting not only quicker, but better… again, I owe a lot to you and others that post so much information for us beginners.Two areas that I still have an issue with from time to time; I was wondering if you could provide some guidance (or even videos).

1. After exposing the screen, I have had issues washing out the stencil before I print. I have a good time down for my exposing, and when I wet the screen, I see the image. But to wash out the emulsion without destroying detail has been a problem. Either I do not use enough pressure and it takes forever for the emulsion to wash out, or I use too much pressure and the edges get damaged. So that one is huge.

2. Not sure if you have much to say on the water based inks, but I use those a lot for the art. Where I have issues with those are after printing, cleaning the screen without damaging the emulsion (in case I want to print the same image the following day). I find that water based inks are hard to clean when you get them wet, but using just chemicals and rags do not seem to clean the screens well enough.

Any way, if you have any advice I would love to hear it.
Thanks again,


The first problem you are experiencing may be related to your film. If your film is not 100% opaque, then it will semi cure the areas you want to wash out. This can cause the symptoms you are explaining. Also be sure that your light source is not heating the emulsion during exposure. If you “bake” the emulsion during the exposure with heat, it will cure or semi cure it. You should be using no more than garden hose pressure to wash out your stencil. Anything more is not good for stencil quality and may cause super saturation of the cured emulsion.

For your second question: first make sure you are using an emulsion designed for water based inks. Otherwise you can have problems with the incorrect emulsion. From what I understand water based ink printing is a little harsher on the screen in general because the ink is always trying to dry to it and bond. It seems that you can use a screen made for water based inks only so much before it has to be replaced due to wearing out. You have to be sure to use the correct ink solvent as well and thoroughly clean the screen after each use to prolong life. But eventually, dried water based ink should collect on the emulsion and in the mesh over time which causes the screen to become more difficult to print with. And just because an ink says it is water based does not necessarily mean that it is water soluble so check on that too. Sometimes solvents are added to quicken the drying time. Ask the vendor of the ink for the proper solvent to use for clean up.

Make sure to check out the website for all kinds of tips and info about screen printing and screen making. Use the Search Site function to help find what you are looking for.

Check out these videos:

Good luck and thanks for watching!

This is typical of the questions I receive on a daily basis either through the website or through YouTube. I receive about 10 questions everyday and being that I answer them in my spare time; it takes about a day to get a response. But, I answer all questions. The more specific you are and the better you phrase it, the better I can attempt to answer your queries. Feel free to ask away!

Learn how to screen print with Catspit Productions, LLC!

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