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I was hoping that I could get some help from some of the screen printing pros here.

I am a big fan costumer and I am in the process of building one of the new Star Trek costumes. Part of the process requires screen printing and I've always wanted to learn how. I want mine to be as close as possible to the originals used on screen. The fabric used for the screen versions was what we call Jumbo Spandex (which is a nylon/spandex mix) and was screened with a delta pattern using Acid Dye to create an all over pattern in one color. Here is what the pattern should be: Delta Pattern. I have already dyed my fabric and I started to work on screening my fabric...and thats when I ran into some trouble!

I am using the 16 x 20 Speedball wood screen and Speedball emulsion. I created my delta stencil using four 8.5 x 11 transparencies taped together with clear tape, which I had printed the delta design onto. I burned the design using the sun (I also tried a makeshift light table and my tanning bed, lol). The well (I believe its called) is only about an inch deep all the way around the design, because I'm trying to print the fabric using as much of the screen as I can. I have re-burned the screen several times trying to get the design as detailed as I can. Sometimes its blurry in places or doesn't burn at all. Once, I accidentally over exposed the screen and sometimes it was under exposed (even though the design was obvious on the screen) and the hardened emulsion washed out. I finally got the screen burned nicely (to my eyes) but when I practiced with it on some plain cotton broadcloth the screen printed very blotchy. When I looked at the screen in the light I saw many imperfections in the stencil. I haven't even gotten to the part where I need to worry about registration.

I am also trying to use a formula from Dharma Trading (who sells dyes, inks, and other textile goods) to convert the acid dye into a medium that can be used to screen print with. I'm using the recipe that calls for sodium alginate thickener and urea. I was able to figure out how the mixture works (it requires a lot of mixing with a mixer) and got it thickened up a decent amount. However, the speedball emulsion seems to let it sink in the wrong places sometimes.

My questions: Is there a way to burn a screen so that there is optimum detail or maybe a type of emulsion better than Speedball? Could the Speedball emulsion be thinner than other types? Do I need a larger well? Are there any tips or tricks for using acid dyes as screening ink? Am I missing something entirely? LOL.

Obviously this is a big job for a newbie but costumers have been known to do some crazy things.

Any tips, tricks, or epiphanies anyone would like to share with me?

Thanks in advance!
 
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