How to make your own silkscreen design for Halloween

Emilee Geist

This year has been scary enough on its own, but now people are gearing up for the year’s spookiest season.

Roam through many Tampa Bay neighborhoods and see how many folks have creatively decorated their homes for Halloween with skeletons, giant spiders and cackling animatronic ghouls. People are already wearing festive clothes, too.

But the pandemic has many people too spooked to decorate outside for fear of inviting trick-or-treaters to the door. Others don’t want to chance shopping at the big box stores for decorations or novelty clothing. So we asked local artist Demeree Barth to show us a simple Halloween-themed project that people can make at home.

Barth teaches art at Seminole Elementary and, as an artist, makes wearable art, elaborate headdresses and printmaking pieces under the moniker Demi God Studio.

Barth came up with an easy silkscreen project using the popular sugar skull motif associated with Dia de los Muertos, the Mexican holiday that celebrates loved ones who have died and begins on Halloween. She suggests that the design can be printed on a T-shirt, tote bag or tea towel. And once you have the process down, you can silkscreen any design, taking you through the other 2020 holidays and beyond.

What you’ll need

Artist Demeree Barth of Seminole works on her sugar skull silkscreen project at home. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]

For the project, you’ll need:

· a piece of fabric for the screen, either actual silkscreen fabric or organza

· an embroidery hoop

· fabric glue like Mod Podge

· a pencil or ultra fine tip Sharpie

· paintbrushes and a bucket of water to dip them in

· a piece of fabric that you want to print the design onto

· screenprinting ink for fabric

· a spoon or utensil to apply the ink

· an old credit card

How to make it

Artist Demeree Barth of Seminole, works on her sugar skull silkscreen project at home. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]

Draw/print out your design.

Draw a sugar skull and embellish it with whatever you like. Find a tutorial online at easydrawingguides.com. If you’re not talented at drawing, Barth recommends finding a line drawing on the internet and printing it out. Find some at etsy.com.

Trim the fabric.

Artist Demeree Barth of Seminole works on her sugar skull silkscreen project at home. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]

You want it closer to the size of your embroidery hoop.

Place the fabric between the embroidery hoops and tighten it.

Artist Demeree Barth, Seminole, works on her sugar skull silkscreen project at home, Wednesday, October 14, 2020. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]

Lay the inner ring of the embroidery hoop on a flat surface and place the fabric screen on top of it. Put the outer ring of the hoop on top of the screen and use the hoop’s screw to secure it.

Trace the design onto the screen.

Artist Demeree Barth of Seminole works on her sugar skull silkscreen project at home. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]

Turn the hoop fabric-side down over the design and trace it onto the screen with sharpened pencil or ultra fine tip permanent marker. Decide what you want to block out by shading the negative space, which will help you later.

Apply glue.

Artist Demeree Barth of Seminole works on her sugar skull silkscreen project at home. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]

Flip the hoop over so the fabric side is up and apply the Mod Podge with a brush to the areas of the screen that you don’t want ink to pass through, including all around the outside of the sugar skull and the shaded areas. Barth also recommends trimming more excess screen to make it easier to apply the glue.

Apply ink and print.

Artist Demeree Barth, Seminole, works on her sugar skull silkscreen project at home, Wednesday, October 14, 2020. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]

Get the piece of fabric that you want to print the design onto, screenprinting ink, spoon or utensil to apply the ink and an old credit card.

Apply the ink to the screen to print onto the fabric.

Artist Demeree Barth of Seminole, works on her sugar skull silkscreen project at home. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]

Put the hoop screen-side down onto the fabric, where you want the design placed. Use a spoon to apply screenprinting ink in a thick layer in a semicircle along the top of the hoop. Using a credit card, firmly smooth the ink down so that it coats the design.

Lift the screen off the fabric.

Artist Demeree Barth of Seminole works on her sugar skull silkscreen project at home. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]

Carefully pull the screen from the fabric and “hope for the best,” Barth joked.

Voila! You just silkscreened a sugar skull.

Artist Demeree Barth of Seminole shows off her sugar skull silkscreen project. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]

Barth suggests using the design on T-shirts, tea towels or homemade bags. You can reuse your screen as often as you like.

Artist Demeree Barth of Seminole works on her sugar skull silkscreen project at home. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]

The sugar skull is specific to the Dia de los Muertos holiday, but the motif is popular year-round.

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