A Flatstock Screen Printer’s Wish List 2016

What’s a growing screen printer have on his or her wish list this year? Here’s a list of common and not so common items that may be useful to the flatstock screen printer.

Speedball Permanent Acrylic Screen Printing Ink ($18/quart, $59/gallon)

Speedball Ink

I’ve tried a variety of other printing inks and had success with some. Speedball still offers the most bang for the buck as far as I’m concerned. Valley Litho sells it by the quart for $17.95 and by the gallon for $58.95. Dick Blick sells it for a little bit more, but you usually get free shipping from Blick on orders over $45. A gallon of all 19 colors would only set you back about $1200…

I like to have process colors on hand (cyan, magenta, yellow), but I like to get the less common colors like Fire Red, Primrose Yellow, Ultra Blue, and even Violet because I am less likely to be able to pick those up locally in pinch.

To get even more mileage out of your ink, be sure to get a gallon of Extender Base. At about $27 for a whole gallon it is less than half of the cost of actual ink.

Also on my list is Speedball Professional Poster Black. Available in both the quart and gallon size, this stuff is still relatively new and the screen printer on your list might not have tried it yet. It’s getting high marks and I’d like to give it a go myself.

Accent Opaque Cover Stock 120 lbs ($172 + shipping/700 sheets)

PaperAndEnvelopes.com seems to be the only place in the world that will ship this stuff and I kind of stumbled across it by accident. I’m really looking forward to trying it. A lot of flat stock printers stick to Cougar 100# Cover stock. Cougar is decent, but sometimes I want something just a little bit thicker. I think with this stuff I could make business and greeting cards. I could also get 140# cover stock from French Paper in a wide variety of colors, but it’s more than four times the cost per sheet.

Liquid Pigments ($30)

Paint Pigments

Earlier this year I picked up some aqueous dispersions from Guerra Paint. You can add a few drops of this stuff to any other water based ink to change the tint significantly. Most recently I added some to some Speedball ink with great results.

You can start off with the CMYK kit for just $30 (it also includes Titanium White), but I opted for the $50 Warm/Cool kit which comes with 8 pigments total and some silica flat binder.

Do yourself a favor and get aqueous dispersions instead of powdered pigment. Most powdered pigment is not fine enough to add to printmaking ink and will result in a grainy texture. It needs to me mechanically ground to a point that it would be harmful if you inhaled it. Pre-mixed is easier. Trust me.

Roman Pro-880 Wallpaper Paste ($15)

Gallon of Roman 880 wallpaper paste

No, really. If you’re shopping for a screen printer who is daring and likes to deviate from the norm, this is something you might be able to surprise them with. This wallpaper paste is methyl cellulose (which is also used in paper making and other processes). You can tint it with any liquid pigment compatible with water based inks and print with it.

It does have a different quality to it than permanent acrylic ink. In fact, it’s water soluble. If it dries in your screen it’s easy to rewet and keep printing or clean up. If you should get some water on a finished print, the ink may bleed. (Why are you getting water on a finished print?)

One other word of caution, I’ve been told that when dry it is a little less flexible and prints with lots of colors may not fare as well when rolled into a tube and shipped. Packaging varies by distributor, but this can be found at Sherwin Williams, Lowes, Home Depot, and other stores I’m sure. This pairs well with the Guerr Paint pigments above.

Screens! ($25+)

The two sizes of screens I currently use are 23″ x 31″ and 25″ x 36″ both with 230 yellow mesh. The larger size gives me more breathing room for 18 x 24 inch prints, especially those with small borders. The best price on 23 x 31 and smaller frames for me is from T&J Printing Supply in Huntley and they’ve told me they will restretch my larger frames. For new 25 x 36 frames I call up Victory Factory.

If you’re going to order 6, 12, or more screens I have seen other suppliers offer screens for a bit less. However, I can’t vouch for their quality and not all screens are made as well as the next.

230 mesh is my go-to mesh, but I would like to get some 305 mesh screens for future attempts to print with higher detail. And it’s always good to have a couple backup screens.

 Ergo-Force Aluminum Squeegee Handle ($40, 20-inch model)

Ergo Force Squeegee Handle

Tech Support Screen Printing Supplies has the best price on the 20-inch handle only model. Screenprinting.com does not offer the 18 or 20-inch models (and sells the 16-inch for $40), However, they do offer a 42-inch model for just $79.95 plus $5 shipping!

Wild Side North offers the most sizes and at the best prices (they don’t show the 20″ model, but you have to call anyway so it doesn’t hurt to ask). Why anyone doesn’t offer all the sizes is beyond me.

The greatest thing about these squeegee handles is that you can use both sides of the squeegee rubber AND you can put any two (or more) handles of different sizes together for a larger squeegee. One of each would be cool, but a $76 investment in the 5, 8, 10, and 15 inch models would yield combinations of 13, 18, 20, 25, 23, 25, 30, and 38 inches in addition to the original four standalone sizes.

Squeegee Rubber ($53)

I’ve taken a shine to the triple durometer 70/90/70 rubber. I got mine on eBay from GoldUp USA. It was about $53 for six feet (72″). A better deal per inch is the twelve feet (144 inches) from Dynamic Screen Printing Supply for just $80. You’ll spend $27 more, but get twice as much rubber. That will make you a whole lot of squeegees!

Wood Squeegee Handle (35 cents per inch!)

I’ve only ordered this once and I got mine from Victory Factory at just 35 cents an inch plus shipping. It must not be a common request because the sales person didn’t even know it was an option (it’s mentioned in the fine print on their website). You’ll still have to pay shipping, but the only other places I’ve seen this offered it’s about $48 for a six foot length. You’ll still have to provide glue, staples, or Chicago bolts to put the squeegee rubber in one of these and if you don’t order it to length you’ll have to cut it. Having some extra on hand isn’t a bad idea.

Graffix Films ($2-$40)

I haven’t found anything else out there that will accept wet ink like Graffix Wet Media Dur-A-Lar. The matte acetate sheets are a little less expensive and have the added bonus of taking chalk, pencil, and pastels, but don’t take ink quite as well as the Dur-A-Lar. These two items are what I’ve been using to make all my full size hand drawn film positives.

Epson P800 Screen Printing Edition ($1795)

Epson P800 Printer

This is a good chunk of change for a printer. Right now I use an Epson Artisan 1430 which has been converted to all black ink. I use refillable ink cartridges to print black dye on inkjet films as large as 13 x 19 inches. The P800 uses pigment inks for fine art printing. This would be useful if I ever want to sell mechanical prints or giclees of non-screen printed works. However, the Screen Printing Edition also comes with AccuRip Black Pearl software for making quality film positives up to 17″ x 129″. That would be cool. It still doesn’t get me quite to borderless 18 x 24 inch prints; for that I need step up to at least a P6000 which comes in at just under $3000. These printers don’t give me a huge advantage in screen printing at the moment, but this is a wish list, not necessarily a practical and pragmatic shopping list.

That’s not everything, but it more than a good start. What screen printing or other art supplies are on your wish list this year? Are there alternatives to these items that you would prefer? Do you have a supplier you prefer or have you seen something here at a better price? Let us know!

If you want to view my real wish list which is always changing, you can see it here.

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