The group on the SoCal 2 Provo Bus Tour to CKU Provo this summer were the first "civilians" to get a look at the YuDu, an inexpensive, do-it-yourself screen printing system developed by ProvoCraft, a company famous in papercrafting circles for the Cricut system.
The YuDu has since been released at the Craft and Hobby Association show in January in Anaheim and JoAnn's actually has it on sale this week for about $200. You might be thinking, "You call that inexpensive?!" Well, yes, when you consider the alternative machines out there are thousands of dollars. My parents actually have one of these expensive systems collecting dust in their garage, but I have never used it, so I am new to screen printing.
A handful of us on the bus tour were selected to receive a YuDu system free, so we could try it out, inspire others and work out any kinks. Since I had been in California for a few weeks while my YuDu was being shipped to Pensacola, yesterday was the first chance I had to break the YuDu out of its box. I had, of course, seen it months before when the bus stopped at ProvoCraft. And then again at CHA where I was able to screen print a heart on a black t-shirt. Kimberly from ProvoCraft happened to be one of the demonstrators - she is one of the ProvoCrafters in charge of us YuDu testers/bloggers. I was able to ask her some questions and she was kind enough to give me some pointers.
But yesterday was the first time I was going to embark on the YuDu experience from start to finish, all by my lonesome. A little nerve wracking, but I was looking forward to it. I love trying new things and inspiring others in different ways.
Without getting into too much detail, here are the basic steps:
1. Create an image in a computer program and print it out on a transparency. (You can line-draw right on to the emulsion sheet, if you like, but I am definitely not that artistic!)
2. Prepare the emulsion on the YuDu printing screen. This requires water. I set up shop in my kitchen.
3. Dry the emulsion/screen in the YuDu dryer.
4. Tape your transparency to the glass top of the YuDu
5. Burn the image into the emulsion screen.
6. Rinse the exposed screen so that the emulsion rises away from the design you exposed.
7. Dry the emulsion/screen in the YuDu dryer.
8. Put a shirt (or whatever else) on the platen and put the platen in the YuDu
9. Use the YuDu inks and squeegee to smooth paint over your shirt
10. Allow the ink to dry
11. Heat set the ink with an iron.
Note: If you get a YuDu system, DO NOT (I repeat, gentlemen, if you happen to be reading this, DO NOT) skip over the instructions. You will truly save yourself a ton of time, and ultimately, money, if you follow the good instructions included with the system!)
The toughest parts for me? Printing the computer image on the transparency and burning the image in the emulsion properly.
The YuDu transparencies are thicker than the kind you can get at an office supply store and my printer liked to eat them. They kept jamming because of the slight curl the transparency naturally had. I decided to go for broke and so I broke out my printable transparencies from Avery. I was able to print on them without jamming my printer and they seemed to work just fine for their purpose with the YuDu.
As for the emulsion part, you have to be careful to have the screen just wet enough so there are no dry spots and no drips. (Emulsion mess up No. 1) And you DEFINITELY need to prepare the emulsion in a LOW-LIGHT room. I must have missed that statement when I was reading the instructions the first time, so that is how I messed up emulsion attempt number 2. Here is a photo of what NOT to do!
And here is what the design looked like when I tried to use that screen:
But emulsion No. 3 turned out quite well!
As a small business owner, I thought that this would be a great way for me to affordably promote my business. As a matter of fact, Kits2Remember is coming out with it's own flourish rubber stamps that look lovely on non-porous surfaces like acrylic and metal ( mor eon that in a future post!). I plan to launch them at the Pleasanton Scrapbook Expo next month and wanted a promotional T-shirt to wear there. So, I took part of one of our actual new stamp designs and printed it out on a transparency. Then I created a message in Microsoft Word and printed that out on a transparency. Never one to waste materials, I burned both images into one emulsion screen.
First I tested it out on the back of one of my T-shirts. I learned how to (and how not to) squeegee the paint properly over the screen.
I then took the design to one of my plain bright green t-shirts. I put the blue flourish designs first, allowing them to air dry before I did the brown message over it. I am letting it dry as I write this, and then I will heat-set it with an iron. Not bad for my first complete project!
Of course, once I started screen printing successfully, it got addictive. I wanted to try it on everything. So, today, I tried it on K2R metal and acrylic (the jury is still out because the ink is still wet)
and on canvas. I have a big canvas wall hanging I did about a year ago
and I have been planning some more in my head for different walls in my house, I thought I would feature some of my new YuDu-ing on a piece or two. The YuDu did really well on the canvas.
So, in all, it took me about a day, off and on between drying times and exposures, housework and "real work" to get the hang of the YuDu, but I feel pretty successful and I am looking forward to my next challenge: Getting a group of men to successfully create something. Thanks to my husband's profession, I have access to a number of marines and sailors, so I'll see of they'll bring over some T-shirts and a design idea to give this a try in the next week or two. I'll be sure to give you the full report once I have it!