Category Archives: Technical tips and ideas

A tip for you

Don’t make your high-density stencils too thick.



High-density prints can look really cool and wow customers. But you must avoid the temptation to make the stencil too thick. 200-micron film can give you great high-density prints. Any thicker and it becomes difficult to print sharp edges and fine details because of light scatter during exposure.

A tip for you

Don’t put those small plastisol ink containers on the flash cure units and dryers.

Avoid placing those small plastisol ink containers on flash cure units or dryers. Take the extra trouble and place them in the coolest place – the floor. It might not always be convenient when you’re really busy but if the ink warms up it’s going to gel and become thick and unusable.

A water-based ink vs plastisol incident.

Unlike harmful plastisol inks, water-based inks are durable, feel soft and are low-impact on the environment.

Last week I received an online newsletter from an organization dedicated to improved sustainability in the fashion and textile industries. To cut a long story short, they had done a magnificent job of producing a Tee that was as organic, eco-friendly, and sustainability-compliant as you could hope for.

It was an impressive effort, except for one thing. They claimed that part of the sustainability excellence was that the Tee had been screen printed in a manual shop using water-based inks because: “Unlike harmful plastisol inks, water-based inks are durable, feel soft and are low-impact on the environment.”

Some investigation and an exchange of emails with the newsletter editor and the printer, revealed that the water-based ink was from a small foreign manufacturer.

It has long been a problem that people assume the word “water” suggests that water-based ink is environmentally superior. Well, we drink water so it must be okay, right? No, wrong! Some water-based inks also contain nasty chemicals. And you won’t know the truth until you examine at least the MSDS.

Anyway, below is my final email on the topic which casts some light on the whole water-based ink versus plastisol issue and how some manufacturers can misrepresent the differences. Since it’s not my intention to denigrate anyone but just present information, I’ve omitted names.

Good morning Xxxxxxx:

Thank you for the response.

I have been in contact with Xxxxxxxxx and it seems that we have a mutual concern for sustainability in the fashion and textile industries. She seems to have gone to a lot of trouble to search out environmentally friendly products for her screen shop, including Xxxxxxxx water-based ink.

I dealt with ink companies for over twenty years and have to tell you that some salespeople and web sites will say anything to sell their product. I don’t believe in taking anything at face value. For instance, the only way to confirm that Xxxxxxxx’s ink has GOTS certification is to ask for the registration number and then search it on the GOTS site. I’d be interested in having this if it can be located because we’ve been unable to find them on the list of GOTS-certified manufacturers.

I visited Xxxxxxxx’s web site and have the following comments:

  • The claims about water-based ink versus plastisol are a bit misleading by virtue of the information omitted. It makes mention of plastisol containing PVC and Phthalates but fails to mention that plastisols without either of these elements have been available for years.
  • It mentions that their water-based ink doesn’t contain lead—leading plastisol brands haven’t contained lead for over thirty years.
  • It refers to plastisol ink being linked to numerous medical disorders but fails to mention those were associated with Phthalate plasticisers, which is why manufacturers moved to non-Phthalate plasticisers.
  • The non-Phthalate brand of plastisol my company carried—Wilflex Epic—is certified to Oekotex 100 (Eco-Passport) so are free of the same problems that Xxxxxxxx claims to be free of by virtue of compliance. You’ll probably find this to be true of most leading plastisol brands.
  • The site implies that plastisol can only be cleaned up by nasty chemicals. This was once true, particularly when textile printers here in Canada didn’t care (many still don’t) and used cheap, nasty solvents extensively. Now there are much safer cleanup chemicals on the market.
  • The site claims that water-based ink can be cleaned out of screens with water. This is mostly true, and it may be still be true even once the ink has dried, if you let the screens soak to soften the ink (and provided no cross-linker has been added). But here’s my concern about what’s been left out of the discussion about cleaning water-based ink screens with water . . .  It implies that you can just wash it all down the drain (but remember those pigment particles too fine for many filter systems?). In many jurisdictions, local water treatment providers make the decision on whether your ink residue is permissible in their water recovery system.  If you don’t have it checked, you run the risk of getting caught and fined if any contaminants are found coming from your facility.
  • The better ink companies offer downloadable MSDS from their web sites. I couldn’t find such a facility on the Xxxxxxxx site.

I didn’t mean to open a can of worms but since we’re all concerned about the environment and the sustainability of the fashion and textile industries, I thought it worth pursuing the topic. And I don’t mean to imply that I’m advocating for plastisol over water-based inks—I’m not (personally, I much prefer my water-based Tees). I just believe that if we are to make informed decisions about environmentally friendly printing, we need to explore the facts and not rely on salespeople and web sites with vested interests.



Wilflex preview of the ISS Long Beach show 20th to 22nd January.

This morning I sat in on the Wilflex webex preview of the ISS show. If you are going to the show (and you really should be) you’ll definitely want to visit the Wilflex booth. It’s number 1517 next door to M&R.

A screen shot of an artist’s impression of the Wilflex booth at the 2017 ISS Long Beach show.

Wilflex has made it particularly enticing for you to visit their booth with some special features:

  • They will be displaying 60 prints to show off every type of ink.
  • A special video titled, The “I” in Ink, has been prepared for the show. It will focus on a number of concepts all beginning with the letter “i” such as imagination, innovation, and inspire.
  • New ink products such as Epic Rio will be on display.
  • Representatives will be available to show products and answer questions.
  • There will be handouts.
  • And last, but by no means least, at 3.30 pm to 5.00 pm on Friday (20th) and Saturday (21st) the booth will be transformed into a “bistro” to host a happy hour. There will be drinks, eats, and giveaways.

Here’s a tip concerning the sample prints on display . . . they search far and wide for prints excellent in both technical rendering and design (they obviously want to show off their ink as advantageously as possible) which means that you get to see ideas from all over the world – ideas you can take back to your shop. For instance, they have a print from Russia that seems pretty interesting.

Doug and Wendy will be at the show and the Wilflex booth would be a good place to leave messages for them, meet with them, and enjoy Wilflex’s hospitality at the Friday and Saturday evening happy hours.

Enjoy the show, but if you can’t attend, feel free to call them when they’re back and ask for an update on what’s new.

To be announced at Long Beach – the only emulsion you may ever need.

Yes! Finally! A one-fits-all emulsion!

Kiwo will be showing their new emulsion, Kiwocol Poly Plus MP, at the Long Beach Show on the 20th to the 22nd of this month.

The “MP” stands for “Multi-Purpose”. Multi purpose because it’s a high resolution, diazo-photopolymer, dual-cure, emulsion for use with all textile and graphic inks including the newest water-based and discharge systems.

All inks you ask? Yes, all inks! Plastisol, water-based, discharge, UV, and solvent-based inks. The whole lot! And that’s not all. It has high solids for quick build-up and smooth stencils, excellent resolution and exposure latitude, high mechanical resistance, and is easily reclaimed.

If you’re having a hard time wrapping your head around this, think of it in terms of that old printers’ bugaboo – white plastisol. Imagine only ever having to keep one white ink in your shop that will print on every conceivable fabric, is 100% bleed resistant, is nice and creamy to work with, will go through any mesh, and will give a nice soft hand. That’s what this emulsion appears to be – the ultimate all-purpose emulsion the world has been waiting for. One emulsion for all your printing.

Now, the big question on your mind is likely the one about price. We’ve been conditioned to expect new and amazing products to break the budget and so you’re probably expecting the worst.  Well, it will please you to know that it’s about mid-range among all the emulsions you likely use for different printing applications. This adds up to a great technological advancement and a great convenience, and all at no extra cost.

Doug and Wendy of Stanley’s will be acquainting themselves with Kiwocol Ploy-Plus MP at Long Beach later his month. If you’re not going to be fortunate enough to be at the show, wait until they get back and then ask them about it.


The ghosts on the back of Tees.

No need to call Ghostbusters. Just change the way you stack.

It can happen that when you’re printing with a low-bleed or bleed-resistant white on dark Tees, you can end up with “ghost” images on the back of the garments.

Most people assume right away that the print has somehow penetrated all the way through the Tee to the back. Usually that’s not the case at all. What often happens is that the garments are stacked as they emerge from the dryer. Because the dye-block ink film is still hot and therefore the dye-block chemicals are still active, they “bleach” the dye in the back of the shirt stacked on top. The result is a “ghost” image on the back of the shirt.

The solution is quite simple and only requires a change in the stacking routine at the end of the dryer. Instead of building a single stack and completing it before starting a new stack, have five or six stacks going at once and stack them in a rotating pattern. In other words, the first garment goes on stack number one, next one on stack number two, next one on stack number three, and so on. By the time you’re back at stack number one the last print will have cooled off enough so as not to “bleach” the back of the next shirt on the stack.

No need to call Ghostbusters.

A tip for you . . .

You must understand the impact of your pricing.

If you’re thinking of leaving your screen printing job and opening your own shop, there’s something you need to know about pricing. Don’t make the mistake others have made when leaving a job to open their own shop. You can’t just charge for a print what your former boss charged or what the competition down the road is charging. Your new shop probably has a whole different cost structure (leases, rent, and other overheads) from the shop where you worked. And the guy down the road may be mindlessly low-balling his prices – do you want to follow him down the path to failure? Calculate your prices according to your circumstances and then see if you can be competitive, not the other way around.

Preventing it from all coming out in the wash . . .

Damn! I should have wash-tested those prints!

Look, we all know that no matter how many washing labels we hang or print on a T-shirt about washing in cool water with mild detergent on the gentle cycle, that Tee is going to be tossed into the wash with the towels, socks, and dog’s blanket on the heavy cycle in hot water.

And we also know that if the print on the Tee wasn’t properly cured, some or all of it, along with your reputation as a textile screen printer and whatever washes out of the dog’s blanket, is going down the drain.

So, you need to do two things to ensure that all your prints are properly cured. First, test your dryer at least a couple of times a day to ensure that it is still reaching cure temperature. The best way to do this is with a Thermoprobe  (see post of November 24th). The second thing to do is a wash test, particularly on critical jobs when there may be a lot at stake in terms of money and reputation.

A good way to do a wash test is to cut the print in half. Wash one half with three heavy bath towels in hot water and liquid detergent. Tumble-dry the load on high for thirty minutes. When you compare the washed half with the unwashed half, there should be no cracking or loss of part or all of the print. If there is, the print wasn’t properly cured. Then you can establish the cause and correct it.

It’s much better to have a failure in your washing machine before the Tees are delivered, than afterwards in the customer’s customers’ washing machines.

A tip for you . . .

Project the shelf life of your transfers like this . . .



To test the shelf life of your transfer prints, place the transfer in a hot box or a hot room for 100 hours at a temperature of 50 degrees C (120 F). This simulates a year of aging on the shelf. After the 100 hours, take it out and allow it to cool to room temperature and transfer it in the usual manner in a heat press. How it transfers will give you insight into performance after a year on the shelf.

Time to pay attention to the tension on your screens?

For most Canadian textile screen printers the slower winter season is here. This means that there is time to do some maintenance tasks usually neglected in the busy summer season.

One of those tasks is attending to under-tensioned stretch-and-glue screens. When production is going full tilt it’s too tempting to use under-tensioned screens and get away with a few more jobs before facing the cost and hassle of re-stretching. Sooner or later you have to deal with it though because of the direct correlation between screen tension and print quality.

Tension meter

So why not schedule a screen tension testing project for the slower season? All you need is a tension meter – if you don’t have this vital item of basic textile screen shop equipment, now would be a good time to talk to Stanley’s about getting one.

Go through all your screens, note their tensions, and mark or put aside the ones in need of re-stretching. You don’t have to have them all re-stretched at once but going through this exercise will give you a much better idea of the state of your screen inventory and enable you to develop a plan to bring it up to snuff.

An inventory of properly-tensioned screens will be another step taken in the pursuit of excellent prints.

A tip for you . . .

Use your lids.

Use your lids.

In all the discussions about getting the most out of the ink dollar, something that’s incredibly important but hardly ever mentioned, is the container lid. Leave it off a water-based ink and you risk evaporation and contamination. And while plastisol ink doesn’t evaporate, it will certainly become contaminated with all the stuff that floats around in a textile shop. And then there are those clumsy spills that can end up in an open ink bucket. Oh, and what about the company pet? Do you really need colourful paw prints on your new office carpet? It’s easier to just make a rule that lids always go on containers.

The importance of monitoring curing temperatures.

I’m going to take issue with a piece in this month’s Images magazine that advocates using a laser temperature gun for checking the curing temperature of ink.

The author recommends using the gun to check the temperature of the ink film as the garment exits the dryer. I’m suggesting that by then the film of ink is already cooling and is no longer at the optimum curing temperature the manufacture recommends that it must reach for proper curing.

Notice the three components of a Thermoprobe - Digital unit, donut, and long wire. The only truly reliable way to test ink film temperature for proper curing.

Notice the three components of a Thermoprobe – Digital unit, donut, and long wire. The only truly reliable way to test ink film temperature for proper curing.

There’s a better way to do it – a way that will tell you when and where in the dryer the ink film reaches the required curing temperature. And that certainly won’t be once it’s out the chamber. The better way of monitoring the temperature of the ink film is to use a donut probe (commonly known as a Thermoprobe) rather than a laser infrared temperature gun, temperature strips, or any other method.

Not only will a Thermoprobe confirm the temperatures encountered by the ink film as the garment progresses through the dryer, but it will also indicate cool spots in the dryer. A laser temperature gun will not do all that for you, particularly if you’re checking the temperature as the garment exits the chamber. How do I know this? Well, if you use a Thermoprobe to plot the ink film temperature every 5 seconds as it moves through the dryer, you’ll end up with a bell curve which is turning down by the time the garment is exiting the chamber.

A Thermoprobe has a “donut” across which is strung two thin wires in a cross formation. The donut connects to a digital readout by a long wire. You place the donut on the ink film with the cross wires on the ink surface (the critical temperature measurement is that of the ink film) and monitor temperature on the digital readout as the garment moves through the dryer.

Now, of course, the Thermoprobe can be about four times more expensive than an infrared laser temperature gun so the decision is yours – do it cheaply or do it properly. But either way, do it regularly. At least two or three tests a day will help avoid curing problems.

A tip for you . . .

Don't unplug the Roland . . .

Don’t unplug the Roland . . .


If you’re lucky enough to have a Roland printer/cutter in your shop, do this now. Make two signs that say “DO NOT unplug this machine!” Take no chances – attach one sign to the machine where it is in full view, and attach the other to the power cord where it plugs into the wall. Why? Because even when you’re closed for the holidays and the Roland is idle, it recycles the ink every twelve or thirteen hours to prevent clogging. If someone unplugs the power, it can’t recycle the ink and you could come back to clogged jets. A couple of signs could save you a lot of hassle and expense.

A tip for you . . .


listen to me, it will save you a lot of hassle . . .

Listen . . . This will save you a lot of hassle


The edge on your coating trough is very important. Protect it whenever it’s not in use. The soft aluminum edge must be kept smooth and free of nicks. A rounded trough edge will put down slightly more emulsion than a sharp edge but it (rounded edge) tends to be less prone to damage.


A tip for you . . .

Pay attention to this tip . . .

Pay attention to this tip . . .


If you’re sensitizing emulsion you need to do so about twenty-four hours before you use it to coat a screen. The time is needed to allow the diazo to dissolve completely and for the air bubbles accumulated during stirring to escape. If the air bubbles are not given this time to escape, you’ll end up with pin holes on the screen.

A compromise: ink mixing system versus redundant inventory.

In recent posts I addressed an issue that plagues many a textile screen printing shop—a build-up of partial ink containers of colours not likely to be used too frequently, if ever. Of course there are always very good intentions of searching the redundant ink before ordering colours but in practice that seldom happens. It’s much easier to pick up the phone than search through a collection of messy, partially full ink buckets.

Redundant ink building up in the background?

Redundant ink building up in the background?

The suggested solution is an in-house mixing system but some printers have let me know that they don’t have the staff or time to mix ink in-house except on a few special occasions when it is really, really necessary.  However, that doesn’t mean that they’re not concerned about the inevitable build-up of partial containers and the unemployed money it represents. So is there another solution, perhaps a compromise between mixing in-house and redundant ink inventory? Yes, there is.

If, as some textile screen printers do, you have a limited palette of colours to offer customers (rather than say, a huge selection such as the PANTONE chart), you can limit your inventory of ink colours to those colours. Printers who use this strategy tell me that they find that most customers are flexible enough in their colour choices for this to work very well. They find that if they offer three reds, most customers will pick one and be happy about it, but if they offer twelve reds it doesn’t make them any happier, it just takes longer to do so.

The one exception (if you have them) is corporate clients who have very specific colour specifications, but we can deal with that, if we have to.

So, here’s the compromise . . . Why not adopt one of Wilflex’s printable ink mixing systems and offer those colours as your house colours? If you consider that a bit limited, you have the ability to add colours by mixing the printable colours to create the additional colours for your standard palette. And then, if you want to accommodate the occasional custom colour (such as for a fussy corporate customer) you can mix it in the exact quantity.

The benefits are convenience, standardization, time-saving and no build up of redundant ink inventory.



Have ink mixing systems evolved without you noticing? Part 2.

The PC mixing system.

The PC mixing system.

Wilflex pioneered total ink room management in the early 1980’s. This included a mixing kit that consisted of a number of bases and just over thirty pigment concentrates. The kit also included a binder with formulas and colour swatches. For the first time printers were able to make colours consistently using the ingredients and very specific formulas. The different bases allowed for ink for different substrates such as cotton and nylon, and specialty bases allowed for the making of special effects inks such as puff and suede.

Over time the formula book was computerised to the point where it is now a sophisticated piece of software that takes all guesswork out of ink making. You can match PANTONE colours, make custom colours, store your own custom formulas, make only the quantity you require, convert existing surplus colours into jobbing black ink, and calculate the cost of a particular job. That just covers some of the capabilities of Wilflex’s Ink Management System (IMS). Other developments over time included additional bases and a reduction in the pigments to just fifteen.

Wilflex MX mixing system

Wilflex MX mixing system

Building on the success of the PC Mixing System Wilflex now has three additional mixing systems. The limited space on this blog doesn’t allow me to go into every detail of each system. If you’d like a discussion about the mixing kit best suited to your shop, a toll-free call to Stanley’s Calgary office (1 800 661 1553, talk to Wendy) or Cambridge (1 877 205 9218, talk to Craig) will get you the answers and advice you need.

In the meantime, the other three Wilflex Mixing Kits in addition to the PC Kit, are: the Wilflex Color MX System of fifteen individually printable and intermixable colours; the Wilflex Epic Colour Equilizers System specifically for wet-on-wet printing; and the recently-released EPIC Rio system wit its 18 finished ink mixing components specifically for vibrancy and opacity. Each has it’s particular focus and a little exploring of the attributes of each will enable a good match with your specific shop.

Regardless of mixing kit you decide upon, you’ll  find this way of managing your ink to not only be convenient but economical too. It just makes sense.


Have ink mixing systems evolved without you noticing? Part 1.

Money belongs in the bank, not on a shelf gathering dust.

Money belongs in the bank, not on a shelf gathering dust.

I once took a partial bucket of plastisol off a shelf— it had been sitting gathering dust for two years—and placed it on a meeting room table.  I asked everyone around the table what they saw. They all saw a partial bucket of red ink. That was of course what I expected them to say until I said I saw about $30.00.

My question was if it didn’t make sense to put $30.00 in coins on the shelf and let them gather dust for two years, why would it make sense to do it with a partial bucket of ink?

My next question, this time for you, is why would you buy ink in greater quantities than you need and accumulate the excess, sometimes for a lot longer than two years? It’s money. Shouldn’t it be in the bank?

The solution of course is a software-backed, in-house mixing system. Aside from the convenience of being able to make colours accurately and instantly without ordering and shipping delays, you can make them in the exact quantities required. No excess. No money gathering dust in a forgotten corner of the shop. No money to be paid for eventually dumping it. And the per-gallon cost is considerably less than ordering the ink already mixed—I once calculated to difference and it was considerable, somewhere around 20 percent, though I don’t recall the exact number.

And let’s not kid ourselves that the solution is an instruction to print shop employees to use up the old ink whenever possible. That’s because ‘whenever possible’ hardly ever happens—it’s a lot easier to phone for a gallon of a particular colour rather than search through old, dirty, partially-full buckets. And then after the job is printed, the left-over ink from the new gallon is added to the other partial buckets to gather dust. And so the expensive mountain of redundant ink grows.

If you’re not mixing your textile screen printing plastisol ink in-house, you should take a serious look at it. There’s the convenience of being able to make an exact custom or PANTONE match in the exact quantity you need in minutes, but then there’s my favourite reason for having an in-house mixing system—economics.

The next post will deal with ink mixing system options.



Easy, effective, and safe clean-up.

Oil-OFF-SampleBottle1-isolated-225x330Stanley’s has found that Oil-OFF, a product by i-Solv of Abbotsford is great for textile and graphics screen printers.

As the name suggests, the product is primarily sold as an oil and grease remover but it has also been found to effectively remove adhesive from textile pallet overspray, plastisol ink spills and smudges, and vinyl lettering. And not only does it work well, but it’s also environmentally friendly.

Stanley’s Calgary ink lab uses it to clean ink smudges off the floor followed by mopping with soap and water.

The other attractive feature of this product is that it’s manufactured in Canada; something important to those of us who’d like to see more made in Canada labels return to our industry.

Stanley’s offers Oil-OFF in a 1-gallon container for $49.00. Any one of the branches can tell you more: Edmonton 1 888 424 7446; Calgary 1 800 661 1553; Vancouver  1800 383 5565; Cambridge 1 877 205 9218.

Where’s the creative T-shirt art gone?

I was in a conversation recently when someone asked, “Have you seen any really creative T-shirt art on the street lately?”

T-shirt from the Big Face series of

T-shirt from the Big Face series of

The consensus was that there doesn’t seem to be too many shirts to make you think, Wow! That’s great art. Most T-shirts nowadays seem to be limited to text that’s either funny, insulting or disgusting and the graphics are usually basic cartoonish or commercially-oriented stuff.

There was a period (around the nineties) of incredible T-shirt art that would turn heads on the street. I can remember examining Tees in stores marvelling at the art and trying to figure out how the prints were done. Not so much anymore. Why is that? Is it a demand problem? Have T-shirts become so mass-produced, cheap and disposable that great art isn’t warranted? Is there insufficient margin in Tees to pay for great art?

T-shirt from the Big Face series of

T-shirt from the Big Face series of

All is not lost though. With some effort you can still find good, creative and interesting art on Tees. For instance,‘s Big Face series has some head-turning Tees in which the images and the shirts are merged in such a way as to give the impression that the whole shirt is the image. Some of these prints are also fine examples of how an artist can use the substrate as part of the image.

In addition to being great art, there’s more good news—these Big Face prints are produced in an environmentally responsible way.

Let’s hope that fine, creative T-shirt art makes a big comeback soon so that walking down the street once again becomes like strolling through a gallery of contemporary art. Maybe that’s a niche for more printers to explore. Maybe more high-quality garments with creative, high-quality prints can regain for the Tee some of its status as a fashion item and a work of art. And if it can be done in an environmentally responsible way, so much the better.

Surely we don’t want to be an industry that just churns out environmentally damaging polishing rags with funny, insulting or disgusting sayings.


Images credit:

Tips for creating the perfect vintage print

Image provided by Soft hand and washed-out print look achieved by leaving out under-base.

Image provided by Soft hand and washed-out print look achieved by leaving out under-base. of Costa Mesa, California has some great tips for producing the vintage prints that customers favour nowadays.

Vintage prints? Yes, vintage prints. Come on, who among us doesn’t have at least a few well-worn, raggedy Tees and sweats with washed-out, faded images we turn to for those laid-back days when we just don’t give a damn and all we want is comfort, no hassles and the company of an old friend or two?

The problem of course is that we live in a fast-moving, impatient society and it takes time, a lot of wearing and a lot of washing to give a regular Tee or sweat that lived-in, washed-out-image look of a vintage garment. So why not cater to those customers who want a vintage look but don’t want to wait? Well, Amy Azzarito of has some useful advice for printing that soft-hand vintage look that normally takes years of washing cycles to achieve:

  1. For a soft vintage print you’re going to have to forego vibrant colours in your design. As Amy points out, in screen printing, vibrant colour with a soft hand is difficult to achieve. In any case, muted, washed-out colours are more suited to the vintage look.
  2. Lose the under-base white. Again, the vintage look doesn’t need the bright colours or the harder hand that under-base white will give you.
  3. Amy’s rule of thumb—the paler the ink colour, the harder the feel. The darker the ink, the softer the feel. So, for the softer look and feel, consider darker ink for your vintage designs.
  4. To help keep the print soft, design using of the colour of the shirt rather than adding another colour. Two early classic examples of this technique are Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler shirts I’m fortunate enough to have in my collection.
  5. Water based and discharge inks are an option for achieving the soft hand associated with vintage shirts.
The colour of the shirt as an integral part of the image.

The colour of the shirt as an integral part of the image.

With the onset of the Canadian winter Amy’s advice could be used to good effect on sweat shirts. With the right garment and an appropriate vintage print, the Canadian winter could be just a bit more comfortable.

If you’re wondering about a garment source suitable for your vintage prints, take a look at’s web site—they have a great selection of blank garments and, according to reviews, great service.

The inks required to achieve that perfect vintage look can all be found at Stanley’s. Give Craig a call in Cambridge (1 877 205 9218 ) or Wendy in Calgary (1 800 661 1553)


When White needs help with Polyester, its best friend is Under-Base Gray. (Part 2)

Sometimes Polywhite needs a helping hand.

Sometimes Polywhite needs a helping hand.

In the previous post we dealt with some of the benefits of using Wilflex’s Under-Base Gray to assist with dye migration resistance when printing on Polyester, particularly the new stretch wicking Polyesters. In this post we’ll look at tips for achieving a softer hand and more vibrant colours.

Ray Smith of Wilflex has done a very thorough job of considering every aspect of printing on the new and troublesome Polyesters on the market. They’re troublesome to textile screen printers not only because of the usual Polyester dye migration challenges, but these new fabrics have brushed surfaces to give the wearer a softer feel against the skin. This brushed surface can feel rough once the imprint is cured. The good news is that Under-Base Gray addresses this problem.

Smith points out that: “Due to its unique properties, the under-base gray will create a smoother surface than conventional ink. The larger particles in the ink act as a coating agent that will seal and lay down he fibers during the application process.” This in turn results in cleaner overprint colours and a smoother hand on the print surface.

The preparation of the gray screen is important. Smith advises a tight screen coated with two coats of emulsion on each side and extra pressure when applying the last stroke on the inside.

Since screen printing inks are not 100 percent opaque, they are influenced by the brightness of the under-base surface. And under-base gray can bring most colours to their natural brightness levels.  In fact, Smith says that many complaints about “weak colours” are as a result of printers trying to fight a white under-base with a dark or mid-tone colour overprint. He goes on to question why printers insist on using a white under-base when a gray under-base is available.

Smith covers a lot of ground on this topic in his article in the Mid-September edition of Printwear. The article is well worth the read for the finer points of using under-base gray. It could change for the better the way you print on Polyesters.