... As promised, I got a group of guys together to give ProvoCraft's YuDu screen printing system a whirl.
My husband, Rodney, and his friends Keith (gray shirt) and Tyler (burgandy shirt) were good sports this afternoon. Before they got started at 2 p.m., I had washed some t-shirts and printed out the phrase my husband wanted: "Nobody Likes You."
The guys throw this phrase at each other in jest when they get beaten in a hand of poker. I was hoping they would pick out something a little more positive, but I guess I should count my blessings that there were no curse words in it. I test printed the image on regular paper first, and then when it looked to be the right size, I printed it out on a inkjet transparency. The guys followed along on the rest of the process with me.
I still find the toughest part of the process to be preparing the emulsion on the screen properly. To get the emulsion to stick permamnently, you have to wet the screen completely, but not so it is dripping. I am sure there is a way to achieve this happy medium, but I have not found it yet and I went through three emulsion sheets trying to get it to adhere cleanly on to the screen. The final one was workable, as you'll see, but hardly perfect. This is the main thing I would love ProvoCraft to improve upon. Better tips on how to get these emulsion sheets to adhere cleanly to the screen each and every time.
The rest of it was a breeze. The guys were surprised how light the YuDu was when they picked it up, and loved that all the steps of the process, such as burning the image into the emulsion and drying the screens, could be done within the machine itself. There was waiting time while the screen dried between steps and the guys kept themselves occupied by playing poker and hitting softballs into a backstop in the backyard.
We taped the "Nobody Likes You" image to the top of the YuDu with clear tape and burned the image beautifully. Once it was ready for the inking process, we taped up the edges of the screen and over the dry areas and bubbled areas in the emulsion. Like I said, the screen was far from perfect, but with the taping up, it worked just fine.
The guys chose to use metallic silver (I bought this ink at JoAnns this week, since all YuDu supplies were 40 percent off. I also got two more screens so I can save and use my images longer) and black ink. Each guy screen printed his own shirt.
Here are some more photos as we completed each step of the inking process:
Tyler squeegeed his ink on his shirt.
The guys check the shirt design to make sure the ink is dark enough.
Rodney dries his shirt (hair drier on a cool setting) before taking it to the dining room to iron it so the image is heat set.
My sons, Will and Xan, woke up from their naps and insisted that they have shirts, too. I was a little concerned because the platens the shirts go on for the inking process were big, adult sized, but they actually worked out just fine, even for Xan's 4T sized shirt.
Will had to give the YuDu a try, and he did a pretty good job. He'll be 7 in April, and he was incredibily interested in the process, so this could be a great project for Girl and Boys Scouts, church groups, creative teenagers and more.
The three guys had three different perspectives on the process:
Tyler said he liked learning about how screen printing works, but that he would not have the patience to tackle this on his own.
Keith said he would definitely make more shirts if he could do it with other people, like we did today. He doubts he would pursue this project on his own, but as a fun project with a group, it would be great. Once he was wearing his finished shirt, Keith was also brainstorming ways to sell custom T-shirts and make some money.
Rodney said he actually enjoyed the screen printing process more than he thought he would and could really see doing some shirts for his softball teams. Rodney said he thought everything was "brilliant" except for the emulsion preparation on the screen. "There has got to be an easier way," he said.
And, last but not least, the guys proudly showing off their YuDu'd shirts: