Tools for Screen Printing

December 12, 2020
Simple Screen Printing

Tips for the Screen Printing Process

Here are a few tips from my experience:

Almost any glaze can be used, simply by limiting the amount of water added, or taking part of a regular batch and letting it evaporate and thicken. I found that a pudding or mayonnaise consistency is best (see photo). If too watery, the glaze doesn’t go through the screen properly, leaking through too freely into the foam. If the glaze is too dry, the bisque ware does not wick up the glaze from the foam. A very light spray of water on the foam before the screen is printed onto it can help delay the glaze from drying before you can transfer it to the pot.

I found that transfer printing with foam was not suited to extremely fine detail transfers, such as photographs, because the pores of the foam need to be substantial enough to hold enough glaze, and that limits the delicacy of the image to some degree. Almost any foam can work, though each has its pros and cons. Larger, more open pores carry more glaze, but limit detail. Tight, dense foam carries less glaze and may dry out quickly. Thick foam helps achieve more even compression and transfer onto the surface of the pot, but takes longer to dry between uses. A small amount of glaze remains in the screen and foam afterward, and these can be washed out. Any residue inside the foam does not affect subsequent prints.

If you’d like to try this fun technique, you can buy foam at upholstery supply, fabric and craft stores. A silk-screen with an image based on your black and white art can be made up at many art-supply stores or there are many internet sites from which you can order custom silk screens. You can also buy a blank screen and use paper, tape, or other block-out mechanisms to create your image. Remember you’ll be printing the open areas of the screen, not the taped portion! To print with glaze, you’ll need a 10xx size mesh or larger in your screen so the clay particles can pass through. An inexpensive window squeegee can be used to push the glaze through the screen.

Using foam to screen print onto round pots is actually an easy process and I encourage everyone to try it. This technique could work very well with sculpture too! Happy screening onto your work!

After doing Raku firing for twenty years, Susan Kotulak now also fires her own high-temperature soda kiln, and participates in group anagama firings in her area. Completing the union of her two media, she now shows wood-fired pottery with companion textile display cloths. See more of her work at

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