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Hello everyone--

First off, I know there are a lot of things about my setup that are not ideal. However, I am working with a fixed budget and a limited amount of time, printing shirts for my family's team in Cystic Fibrosis charity walk.

I've been doing the shirts for a few years now, and this has been my introduction to silkscreening shirts (and the sum total of my experience). The first year I did a single color design and just threw the shirts on a table, but the screen on top and printed. The second year I wanted something nicer and went with a two color design-- there was no overlap in the colors, however, and the design was forgiving enough that I could just eyeball it and print the same way.

This year, the design is two-color again, but the design involves some street signs, so I'll need to be printing black on top of yellow (on dark grey shirts which were donated).

For this year, I have a DIY press setup, made from these plans:
Free Four Color Screen Printing Press Plans | DIY Homemade T-Shirt Press
(Please don't give me feedback on the pros and cons of these plans-- this is what I have and I don't have a choice at this point.)

I have read about flash dryers, but my budget allows for a heat gun. I picked it up from an Ace hardware-- it has a dial to set temperature (up to 1100 degrees F) and two power settings.

Again, I realize that I am working with a subpar setup, but I am hoping to pick up some tips to help me do this as well as I can because the many walkers on our team have really enjoyed the shirts and look to me to come up with something nice every year.

So, here are some particular things I am concerned about. Any feedback is appreciated.

1) I read about wet printing being common with waterbased inks (I am using Speedball and one other brand I can't recall, I believe it starts with V). I am worried about the bottom of the second screen picking up ink from the first print and drying between pulls. Should I be spraying the bottom of that screen with water, or wiping it down with a damp cloth between prints?

2) Since I am printing yellow on dark grey with waterbased ink, my tests were predictably underwhelming in terms of how opaque I was getting the yellow. I'm considering two solutions:
a) burn an extra screen of the yellow layer and do a white layer first.
b) pull the yellow layer twice.
--From some limited testing with old screens, I think it will look better if I do the white layer.

My question is-- does anyone have any experience doing something like this? Any tips on drying the white layer enough with the heat gun to print the yellow layer on top of it, then doing the same to the yellow layer to prep for the black layer (the details of the design).

3) Another alternative I was considering, which would add a lot of work, would be to set up an extra screen frame with a transparency of the design on it so I could dry the shirts in the oven/dryer and then use that to make sure they are in the same place they were. This way I would be printing each layer on a dried shirt.


Basically, I think it would be best if I could just print wet and just give the shirts a run over with the heat gun between each color. I'm hoping that will be enough to not gum up all my screens and have to re-burn them.

Any help or advice is much appreciated. Sorry for the scatterbrained post, I'm just trying to get everything straight in my head as I write this.
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