News Column

Screening process: Method of printing custom T-shirts to be taught at Spiva

June 12, 2014

By Joe Hadsall, The Joplin Globe, Mo.

June 12--WEBB CITY, Mo. -- As an art teacher at Webb City High School, Amber Mintert knows a cardinal rule about high-school life: If it's good, it needs a T-shirt.

"Powder puff games, blood drives, dances, 5k races, band concerts," Mintert said. "These all require a T-shirt. Everyone wants a T-shirt for everything."

There's nothing wrong with that, Mintert said. But so many custom shirt orders can get expensive. That's why she has learned how to screen print her own shirts. The number of shirts she's made over the past few years is in the high hundreds, she said.

She'll share her secrets during a class Saturday at Spiva Center for the Arts. The class, for students 14 and older, will teach the entire process and how to do so at home with a minimal investment.

The most expensive thing to find is the screen and squeegee set, which can be found at area craft stores for about $50. Once that investment is made, the contact paper and shirts for custom designs is inexpensive, and a bottle of ink can make almost 100 shirts, Mintert said.

"Someone who hasn't studied art can still produce a T-shirt," Mintert said. "We'll cover how to do this process in an economical, house-friendly way."

Screen printing involves the application of ink to a piece of fabric or paper by using a silk screen. A stencil of the chosen design is cut out, then placed in a special tray that holds the screen. A squeegee is used to apply the ink in the shape of the stencil.

The most complicated part of the process is cutting that initial stencil, Mintert said. It requires contact paper and a sharp knife. Mintert said that process will be covered during the class.

"It's good to start simple, then work your way up to developing a more intricate design," Mintert said. "If you jump in with both feet, you may end up with a mess."

And the use of a knife is why the class is intended for older children. But if parents are willing to tackle the long process of stencil-cutting, children can easily get involved in the painting -- a two-person process that requires one to tightly hold the screen and the other to use the squeegee.

Once a stencil is done, dozens of shirts can be made with one bottle of ink. With shirts as low as $3, many shirts can be done for many different events.

Similar screen-printed shirts can cost anywhere from $10 to $30. But learning the process enables people to make their own custom clothing for a variety of purposes, she said.

Want to go?

Screen printing will be taught by Amber Mintert during a class from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Spiva Center for the Arts, located at Third and Wall streets. The class is for students 14 and older. Cost: $30. Class will include a cotton tote bag, but students may bring their own T-shirts. Details: 417-623-0183.


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Source: Joplin Globe (MO)

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