Tips for Smudge-Free Printing on Fabric

Thermofax screens have a mystery about them, probably because you can’t just buy them in any store. You have to have a Thermofax machine (an old photocopy technology) or know someone who does.

krawczyk printing on fabric
Lynn Krawczyk demonstrates how to print on fabric using Thermofax screen without smearing the paint.

Fortunately, there are many artists who will make these screens for you at a reasonable cost. And once you have your screens, they are incredibly easy to use.

Just place the screen on your fabric, squeeze paint or printing ink on the screen, and press it through the screen using a foam brush or squeegee (an old credit card works well).

Mixed-media fiber artist Lynn Krawczyk makes Thermofax screens for herself and others, and screen printing features heavily in her work. She often combines printing on fabric with painting and hand stitching for a unique textured look.

Lynn likes to print multiple times on the same piece of fabric, but there’s a trick to repeat printing without leaving smudges of unwanted paint on the surface.

Here are Lynn’s tips for smudge-free printing:  

1. Start by printing an image in the center of the fabric.

2. Lay the screen down for the next print, overlapping the screen onto the edges of wet paint from the previous print. As long as you don’t reposition the screen, the paint won’t smudge. Be sure to hold the screen in place along an edge that is not lying across the wet paint.

3. Print your image and pull back the screen. Before you create another print, check the duct-taped edges and the back of the screen for any paint spots. If there are spots, place the screen paint-side down on a dry paper towel and wipe off the unwanted paint.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you’ve covered the entire piece of fabric, working from the inside and out toward the edges.

With care, you can use your screens over and over again, creating unique fabrics for years to come.

Lynn shares her fool-proof techniques and tips, from creating screens to cleaning and storage in, Thermofax Screen Printing Essentials. If you’ve ever wanted to try Thermofax screen printing, Lynn’s will show you everything you need to know.

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