Author: Wendy Croxford
In order to screen print in a sustainable way, you will need to ensure that all elements of the process are responsibly sourced. This includes the fabric or material that you’re printing onto, as well as eco-friendly or vegan inks for screen printing. Here’s where you can source quality components for organic printing.
Finding organic T-shirts and fabric for screen printing
There are many options for buying quality organic fabrics and clothing these days, particularly online. For small print runs in Australia, for example, you might look to stores like Fairtees, Etiko or Velvety for fair trade and organic blank T-shirts. If you’re running large print runs, suppliers such as OCC Apparel can provide certified organic cottons in a variety of colours and styles, such as these t-shirts pictured here which are from the ‘Earth Positive’ brand. Other good organic brands include Salvage and Certton which are also available at OCC Apparel. Search for fair trade organic yardage or clothing to find materials that are ethically grown and processed.
Some screen printers steer clear of water based inks because of the perception that they’re tricky to master, but these inks can actually be a joy to use and the results really speak for themselves. Done right, your prints will be softer to the touch, more detailed, more environmentally friendly and more durable than with plastisol inks. Remember these top five tips and you’ll practically be ensuring a perfect print with Permaset water based inks.
Easter is a time for getting together and handing out sweet treats to family and friends, so why not make your own gifts and cards? Here are three of our favourite easy and effective Easter projects that you can achieve with stamping equipment and water-based inks.
Rabbit or egg ribbons for gifts
Patterned ribbon is such a simple way to add a distinctive touch to an Easter egg or gift, and block printing is an ideal way to produce bulk amounts of it! You’ll want to design a small and simple print to suit the ribbon’s width, and then choose a contrasting ink colour so your pattern stands out. We love the idea of repeating a series of rabbit silhouettes or tiny eggs along a thick satin ribbon. You might even choose metallic gold or silver eco-friendly inks, which can look amazing on dark and bright colours.
Our water based screen printing inks aren’t just limited to the one technique – you can easily use them to hand paint and block print onto T-shirts, canvases, bags, yardage and more. Here are some of our favourite practical tips for painting on fabric and textiles using Permaset Aqua Standard and Glow inks.
Tip 1: Choose (and test) your fabric wisely.
There is an incredible array of fabrics and textiles to choose from when it comes to hand painting! You might prefer a natural oatmeal linen for rustic tea towels, or a delicate natural silk for light scarves. If you can, create some small swatches of your chosen fabric so you can test out ink consistencies and application before you make your final print. It’s also important to pre-wash some textiles such as cotton clothing, to pre-empt any shrinkage before printing or painting. Just don’t use fabric softener or other treatments as this can affect the final print absorption.
Tip 2: Experiment with various painting and printing techniques.
There are so many options for hand painting and hand printing onto textiles. You might try block printing using a simple repeated pattern or to use hand painting to add a customised message to a T-shirt. You could dip fabric into a prepared ink solution, or spray diluted ink in a loose pattern or even try tie-dying. You can also spray the fabric with water prior to painting with water based inks for a softened and spontaneous result. The sky is the limit when you have the right materials, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
Tip 3: Use the right fabric paint.
It’s important to choose an ink/paint for its easy application and longevity as well as for its sustainability credentials. Permaset Aqua Standard and Glow inks offer amazing colour choices for standard fabric prints on light coloured fabrics. If you’re printing onto black or dark fabrics, then Permaset’s vivid Supercover inks deliver an amazing opacity while maintaining an ideal stretchability and hand feel. You can have all of our non-toxic and solvent free inks delivered right to your door, or pick them up at a local stockist in your area. Here is our link to the Permaset Online Shop if you wish to purchase online.
Tip 4: Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Know what one of the best parts of textile painting can be? The tiny authentic smudges and edges that mean it is completely unique and made with heart. You’re not a robot, so don’t worry too much about small mistakes when you’re hand painting onto fabric. You can either try to clean up spots with a cotton swab, cover it later with an extra embellishment like a patch or button, or just embrace it as perfectly imperfect!
Tip 5: Be sure to heat set your inks/paints
Heat setting helps ink pigments to bond and adhere to your fabric fibres, so it’s an important step in creating a long-lasting finish for your hand painted textiles. You might be working with an iron, a drying tunnel or a tumble dryer. Take care to test your fabric swatches using this method before applying it to your final print (particularly for delicate fabrics). Once your textiles have been set, you’ll be ready to sew, sell, wear or even wash your completed painted textiles!
School’s back in for the year and the kids will be raring to get creative, both at home and in the classroom. Get started with these easy and sustainable crafts using our eco-friendly water based inks for printing.
Project 1: Bespoke book bags
What better way to encourage reading than to make it colourful and fun with custom book bags? Calico totes can be bought cheaply from art supply stores, or you might wish to print on simple drawstring bags instead. You could either help the kids to screen print patterns or simply give them some paint brushes and stamps (or block prints) to use with various Permaset ink colours. Heat set and add pom poms, ribbons, iron-on patches or embroidery, and the kids will have an enviable book bag like no other!
Project 2: Custom pencil cases
You can help kids create their own unique fabric pencil cases and get them excited about a new school year full of spelling and writing. If you’re not a sewer, it’s easy to create felt pouches or pencil rolls that can be hand painted then stuck together with strong craft glue. If you do know how to sew, then you could get the kids to screen print designs onto plain cotton and turn these into cool zippered cases.
Project 4: Printed bookmarks for friends and teachers
This is a fantastically simple project to introduce kids to the world of screen printing. Ask children to draw a design onto vinyl sheets, carefully cut them out and apply them to mini printing screens. Then, show them how to print their designs onto large sheets of paper. These sheets can be easily cut into strips by an adult using a guillotine, or hand cut into unique shapes by the kids. With the addition of a hole punch and a colourful ribbon, they’ll make great gifts to other students, teachers and parents.
Project 3: Personalised lunch and snack bags
Lunch bags can be created using paper or fabric, and the good news is that Permaset inks can be used for both options. If you’re making your bags with paper, you can print large sheets as above and then follow an origami video to fold your paper bag into place. If you’re using fabric, then you might try a pattern such as this reusable snack bag. If you’re really feeling clever you could line the inside of the lunch bag with clear or patterned vinyl to make it spillproof.
When you’re looking for a solvent-free ink which is safe for kids to use, then look no further than Permaset Aqua water based inks. They’re vibrant, non-toxic, versatile and incredibly easy to clean up, whether you’re printing onto posters or onto organic clothing. Visit one of our stockists or buy online with easy delivery.