Screen printing is a printing technique where ink is transferred through mesh, and then onto a medium. Parts of the screen are blocked out to allow the ink to go through. It’s pretty much like using a stencil. Screen printing can be used on a variety of different materials such as paper, and canvas. A lot of your t-shirts are probably screen printed too!
Bet ya didn’t know that we screen print our own mermaid loot tote bags! This wasn’t something we learned overnight. We started a few years ago. At the time it actually took us a few months to learn how to properly make and expose a screen. We spent that whole summer YouTubing and reading articles on how to screen print. Now I’m able to take what we learned and create awesome mermaid goodness out of it!
Sometime in the future I’m hoping to do a tutorial on how to properly set up a screen and all that other jazz. But for now, this is just a behind the scenes look at our totes and alllll the love that goes into it.
First, it all started with an idea and a sketch. But doesn’t everything! I hand-lettered the words, mermaid loot, for what felt like the hundredth time. I played around with different styles and shapes, then finally settled on the one that I liked.
After I was satisfied with my design, I scanned it into the computer and vectorized it inside Illustrator. The lettering was then printed onto a special film that is used to make the screen. After exposing the screen and knocking out the design, we are ready for action!
Now it’s time to pull out the canvas totes! FYI – I had to do a lot of research to find a good quality tote bag that I could see myself using. I ordered sample totes from many different online retailers, and finally ended up with the ones we use now. Our totes are 100% canvas, sturdy, roomy, and feature a guesette bottom. Which I LOVE because the contents of your bag aren’t sloshing around on the inside.
Design. Check. Screen. Check. Tote bags. Check. It’s time to get down to business and start screen printing! Sage and I have a little deal where he prints and I dry. This system works well for us and we are able to knock out the bags pretty fast this way.
Soon enough, he puts those muscles to work and begins printing. Let me say – there is definitely a technique to it. The squeegee pressure, and the angle you’re holding it at, all have a lot do with how much ink gets pushed through. This could be the difference between a crisp design and a design that wasn’t covered all the way. We really prefer using water based ink because it’s soft to the touch on the canvas. And clean up is a million times easier!
After he’s finished printing he passes it to me. The official dryer technician! Ha! If that doesn’t sound exciting that’s because it’s not. I don’t mind it, but it’s not one of my favorite parts. Although it’s not one of my favorite parts, it’s one of the most important. Curing is an crucial step to screen printing. You’re setting the ink and making sure it is dry and stays dry. FOREVER. The time and temperature it needs to reach all depend on the ink, material, and thing you’re using to dry it with.
Our mermaid loot totes wouldn’t be complete without a Salty Kai label on the inside. I designed them, and had them printed by another small business. Once the labels arrived, I heat pressed each one into the bags.
When you’re a small business creating a new product is a lot more than just ordering the goods from somewhere. It takes a lot of hard work and love to make your ideas come to life. So when you purchase a tote from us, you’re not only purchasing something that I’m proud of, but something I use on the daily. Now don’t forget to check out our mermaid loot totes here!
– Salty Kai // Renée