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About 20 years ago, i got thrust into the screenprinting industry. Out of desperation i took a job on the graveyard shift with a company called F&M Expressions in NJ as a catcher at the end of the dryer for a huge sakurai cylinder transfer press. Alot of you are familiar with F&M expressions. They even have a link here on this forum on the preferred vendors list.

Anyway, this little story is for those who are just getting into the industry and feel lost and are trying to learn. I will share with you my first 6 month nightmare in silk screening.

After 3 months of checking for pinholes on the prints coming down the conveyor belt and watching the printers, and screen guys, I had enough!!! I figured i learned enough and i wanted printers pay. At that time in NJ, a decent printers pay was about $14/hour. I quit F&M and applied for a job for a printer to run an M&R 6 color gauntlet. The company i applied to was just bought by someone who had minimal knowledge so on the interview, everything out of my mouth was a lie as far as my experience and knowledge was concerned. It worked cause i got hired to run the gauntlet. I was to start the next day! Uh Oh!

That next morning on my first day of work, the boss opened the shop and let me in. He gave me instructions as to what shirts to print and the screens for them. They were already exposed thank god! The boss had to leave for about 4 hours and would be back an lunch time. There was one other person in the shop and he was reclaiming and burning screens and spoke no english.

Now it was time to panic. I was given a a 4 color job to print on 600 black shirts. Underlay, Flash, cooling station and 3 other colors. No halftones or blends on the print. Thank God for small miracles!! So there i am standing at the Gauntlet looking at the control panel and guessed my way through that. Now it was time to set up these screens. I knew enough to tape up the screens but i had no idea about registering a job on a press. A "T" square to assist me had never crossed my mind.

Back at F&M espressions they also had a huge M&R textile press (At least i think it was an M&R). It had to be a 12 color press. So after observing that press for 3 months, i went ahead and used the little knowledge i had gained and started setting up my first print job ever.. I Threw in the underlay screen and lifted the pallets up and eyeballed it. I figured it looked straight. I locked in that screen, loaded it up with a full gallon of White ink and took a test print. I flashed that color and went ahead and started setting up the next screens to that first color. After about 2 hours of tweaking that second color to be at least close to registration with the first color, I couldnt for the life of me figure out why the flash was on head number 5.. It should have been on head number 2. Then it dawned on me.. OH MY GOD.. This press prints the opposite way than the one at F&M. I just set up half the job backwards and wasted now close to 3 hours on just setting up 2 colors. Trying to make a long story short, i got the job up and running correctly and it only took me 7 hours. LOL!!

My boss was supposed to have been back already and i printed all of the shirts. At least i finished 1 job, so i thought. I then go to the end of the dryer to start stacking the shirts and folding them, needless to say shirts were everywhere. Wait a minute!! why do i have ink on my hands? Well after a brief look at the dryer, it then dawns on me that when i turned it on earlier that day, i only started the converyor belt and not the heating elements. The boss calls and asks if i mind staying in the shop til he gets back. He had a family emergency and would be at the shop in an hour. Great!!! fire up the dryer and run all the shirts back down.. Praying to god we have enough spot cleaner for the gun to zap out 600 ink stained shirts...

All said and done, on my first print job ever, i wound up printing all of the shirts on the wrong side.. The stains and print locations and scorched shirts all went un noticed because when the boss got back he saw the prints were on the wrong side of the shirts. I told him there was trouble with the compressor for the press and it kept shutting down on me, that is why it took all day. He over looked the major screw up on my part about printing on the wrong side. I offered to pay half the cost on the shirts after my boss told me he would take the hit.

Obviously there is much more to this story. Every aspect of printing i had to learn, i had really tough times.. I had to teach myself how to mix ink, how to run an auto press, how to manual print, how to expose and reclaim screens, how to do process printing. This was back in the day when the internet was not an option..I would go home every night almost in tears in fear that i was gonna get fired. I stuck it out though and now i work from home doing art and seps and help other print shops when they are desperate.

I guess the moral of this story is that even with all the tools and services we have access to over the internet and forums and such.. Expect to make mistakes and learn from them. We can ask all the questions we want and people can help us but to truly understand, we gotta roll up our sleeves and make these mistakes so we can move forward and learn more.

Anyway feel free to pm me and ask me any questions about screen printing or art and seps. I love helpin people and sharing the knowledge
 

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I totally agree with you. I lost about $300 dollars on mistakes i made (which isn't much) but this happened during my plastisol testing those plastisols are very sensitive and delicate if not pressing them at the right temp, pressure and time.
 

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This was a great story!! LOL

I just had to shake my head and laugh...thinking that it closely resembled a typical day in my life!!! :D
 

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WOW !!!! What a great story and thanks for giving old and new people in the business a look at what can/does happen. I wish, I had a boss that understanding. .... JB
 

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Jimmy,

That was a really good story, I cringed right along with it... heheh
Talk about a crash course, in a job and life!

To start a new job is hard enough, but to do it the way you did is enough to start drinking full-time. :)
I believe that a lot more 'bluff' their way into positions more than they'd tell, it's sometimes the only way to climb up another rung, so we have to do what we have to do.
(Maybe not to the extent you did! heh)

If I would've tried what you did I would've ended up in prison! :D

Nice story, and nice offer to help others too.

Randy
 

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Hi Jim. :)

Holy cow, I couldn't have pulled that off on my best day! :)

Good to see you again. Have a great weekend. :)
 

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it is amazing to me the number of people that ask me how I know so much... well the above story is the reason.. I screwed up so many times I can't count them. But out of that came knowledge. That is what I share with you guys and alot of new people. Out of those screw ups came 30 videos that just turned 280,000 views on you tubes, and products designs that hopefully make your life easier. It is nice to know some one is getting knowledge from those.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the replies :) Last night i was just reading through some of the different topics and questions in this forum. I saw a lot of posts like.. HELP! DESPERATE PLEASE HELP!.. and other posts similar. I was also noticing how there are so many posts asking for help about the same thing over and over again.. For example.. Halftones.. please help.. There are dozens of posts and topics about that topic. So just for sh--ts and giggles i figured i would open and read some of those posts and follow some links. Within 20 minutes I found links to software for seps, halftoning, 4 /c process, Index seps, videos, tutorials, plugins, automated scripts, other resources and tons of great stuff.. In that short time i found an answer to just about every possible question i could have about the topic. This is what made me want to share that story with you all. That experience of mine was one of true desperation..Back then there was no one to ask.. No one to turn to. The answers are all here. There are no shortcuts. Research, reading, questions, and practice is how it all happens
 

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Jimmy,

You are 100% correct, if you made a thread every day that had the answers to it all, it would still be asked... heheh
On a completely different forum I made a GIANT list of suppliers, tutorials, and reference that took me more than a few days to place together, and it's never used, people have a tendency to ask first, I guess it's human nature.
(I even made a Google tutorial, but it's not used either) :)
I'm not complaining or poking fun, but it's just the truth, and I believe that is why newbies get the answers that they do sometime, like, "SEARCH!", or something like that, 'cause it's an age old question.

One exception is when a newbie, one doesn't know what to ask, the terminology and brand names are not within our grasp, so we have to ask.
I know that happened to me, I was completely clueless, and still am! :D
Some people are not only new to the forums and t-shirt making, they are new to the computer too, so there's all kinds that need help, they just don't know how to ask for it right in a lot of the cases.

Keep on though, you're always helpful, and it's appreciated.:)

Randy
 

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The only person that doesn't screw up is the one that never try's anything and never does anything. I alway's said that out of something bad there's alway's something good that follows.
 

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Thanx 4 taking the time to write this post! Many of us seem to ´forget´that screw-ups are supposed to and will happen, and actually make the best stories and recieve the best laughs!!:)
 
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