Screen printing is an affordable way to personalise cushions and furniture, or create an original wall canvas. The process involves using specialised ink, stencils and a mesh screen to apply a design to a surface.
Buy a screen printing kit from an art shop, or make one using silk mesh and a timber frame. For a budget option, buy a blank 300 x 400mm canvas, about $10, and remove the fabric.
Cut silk mesh to size 50mm larger than the frame. Pull the mesh taut over the sides, then attach it at each corner and at 10mm intervals with staples.
Make your own stencils using contact paper or masking film.
TIP Apply acrylic varnish along the joint to seal the edge and use duct tape to make a neat border.
Decorate storage cube
Screen printing is normally used to apply stencil designs to fabric, but the technique can be used to decorate other surfaces.
Flat-packed storage cubes can be purchased for about $20. Use a wicker basket as a drawer to create a versatile side table.
TIP Screen print the panels before assembling the cube.
PREPARE THE SURFACE by applying primer to the melamine panels prior to screen printing.
PRINT THE DESIGN on the panel by attaching the stencil to the screen printing frame and applying water-based paint with a squeegee.
ASSEMBLE THE CUBE by following the instructions, then seal the surface with clear varnish.
Screen printing can be used to decorate a variety of surfaces like this storage cube
Making pattern stencils
To make a stencil, draw your own design or trace a pattern using tracing paper and transfer onto masking film. If using a printout or a photocopied pattern, no tracing is required. You’ll need a craft knife or scalpel and a cutting mat, about $25, from an art shop.
Step 1. Cut the design
Cut the design by positioning the pattern on a cutting mat, then put the masking film on top, securing both with masking tape. Carefully cut out the areas of the pattern to be printed using a craft knife.
Step 2. Attach the stencil
Attach the stencil to the screen printing frame by carefully peeling away the backing and applying the stencil to the screen on the outside of the frame, lining up the edge of the pattern with the edge of the frame.
Step 3. Paint the stencil
Paint the stencil onto the cushion cover by laying a line of ink along one edge of the frame and pushing it to the other side using a squeegee. For intricate patterns, practise on a scrap piece of fabric first.
Stencil the cushions
Trace the design for your stencil onto the back of a sheet of acetate masking film using a pencil, then cut out using a craft knife. Keep in mind that the ink will be applied to all areas except the masking film stencil.
Trim the masking film to the exact dimensions of the frame, then secure the stencil to the screen on the outside of the frame, positioning it so that the design is centred and there are no gaps between the stencil and the edges.
Lay the cushion cover flat on a table with the side that is to be decorated facing upwards. Position the screen on the cushion with the outside of the frame facing down, ensuring the design is centred.
Place several spoonfuls of pigment ink inside the screen, just outside the stencil area, leaving enough space for the squeegee between the ink and the frame. Smooth the ink into a thick line across the screen using a spatula.
Grip the frame tightly with one hand and use the squeegee to firmly push the ink from one side of the screen to the other, keeping the squeegee at a 30º angle and maintaining constant pressure.
Hold the cushion cover down with one hand and carefully lift up one edge of the frame, then the other. Allow the ink to dry on the cushion where it is. Remove the stencil and wash the mesh using cold water.