Step 2: Coating Your Screen with Emulsion

Welcome to Art2Silkscreen's first series of tutorials on how to properly screen print your designs.


In today's blog, we are going to take you through, step-by-step, how to coat your screen with emulsion. Make sure you read the following instructions carefully for a perfect print design!

Reminder: Emulsion is light sensitive. For best results in coating your screen with emulsion, complete this stage in a dimly lit room.  

step-2-screenshot-1.jpg1: Sensitise Your Emulsion

The first step is to sensitise your emulsion. Some emulsion products are only one part, but our emulsions at Art2Silkscreen come in two parts: the emulsion itself and the sensitiser.

Make sure your sensitiser powder is diluted. Fill up a jug of distilled water, roughly 50 ml, and pour directly into the bottle. Once filled, screw the lid back on and shake well. This is to get rid of any powder lurking at the bottom.

2: Stir Emulsion

step-2-screenshot-2.jpgNow you can put your sensitiser into your emulsion fluid. This is the light-sensitive part so be careful not to expose the sensitiser or emulsion to natural daylight. If you have purchased an Art2Silkscreen emulsion, it should be blue in colour.

Once you’ve poured in the sensitiser, which is brown in colour, stir it into the emulsion using a palette knife. The emulsion should then change from blue to green. If you have an emulsion in another colour, then as long as it changes colour then you know it’s working.

Make sure you get right around the edges and to the bottom of the emulsion pot as you stir, otherwise you’ll get parts of emulsion that are light-sensitive and other parts that are not.

step-2-screenshot-3.jpg3:  Let Emulsion Sit

We recommend that you let the emulsion sit for a minimum of 24 hours. You will notice small bubbles on the surface of the emulsion appear after you’ve stirred. Letting the emulsion sit will allow the bubbles to disperse and not produce gaps in your design.

After replacing the lid, store in a cool, dry cupboard. Once 24 hours have passed, removed from storage and open the lid. There should be no more bubbles.

step-2-screenshot-4.jpg4: Coat Using Trough

Now you’re ready to coat! For this step, make sure you have the right coating trough according to your screen size. Troughs are great because they make coating emulsion a much easier (and less messy!) part of the process.

Pour some of your emulsion into the coating trough. Be careful not to overfill and make sure there’s plenty to cover your screen. Once you’ve finished pouring, remember to replace the lid on your emulsion.

While you can use two hands to coat your screen, it is recommended that you use one for a steadier coating. Using your non-coating hand to support the screen, place your trough at the bottom of the screen. Making sure the emulsion is distributed evenly in your trough, allow it to rest against the mesh.

Tilting the trough, allowing the emulsion to touch the mesh then slowly but firmly draw the trough up the screen. Be careful not to press too hard! When it reaches the top, tilt the trough back and allow the emulsion to fall back in then scoop off. Repeat the process for the other side.

step-2-screenshot-5.jpg5: Level Off

Next, you want to level (or scoop) off the emulsion. Starting at the bottom of the screen, press your trough into the mesh, keeping it tilted backwards. Pushing firmly, draw the trough upwards. This will allow any excess emulsion to go back into the coating trough.

Levelling off is important as it helps prevent any blobby areas in your print design. Repeat this step for the other side of the screen.

step-2-screenshot-6.jpg6: Dry Your Emulsion

Now, let your screen dry. We prefer to hold it in front of a fan heater for quicker drying. Keep the screen at least a foot away from the fan at all times. Make sure it’s dry all over otherwise you’ll have problems with your exposure.

As it dries, you’ll notice that the emulsion will take on a more matte finish. Once it is dry, run your fingertips over the mesh to make sure there aren’t any tacky areas.

Now you've finished this step, take a look at our next blog post for the next stage: Exposing Your Image!

Watch Full Video Below

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