My Latest Obsession: Screen Printing

I have spent months AND MONTHS thinking about screen printing and possibly trying it out, but I shied away from it because of the upfront cost and learning curve, not to mention the mountain of supplies that would inevitably end up stock-piled in my house. There’s a TON of stuff out there and it was all just completely overwhelming.

On the flip side, hiring someone else to do your printing is also quite an investment (especially if you’re ordering in small quantities – you end up paying more per unit) and stuff just takes longer (emailing back and forth, waiting for your order to be complete and being nervous the whole time about whether or not it’ll come out the way you envisioned.)

I ultimately decided that I want to move toward screening my own stuff, and if you follow my SoPupuka account on Instagram, I’ve been sharing a little bit of what I’m doing. And now I’m going to recycle those exact same Instagram pics (sorry but those are the ONLY pics I took of this whole process).

To get the ball rolling, I ended up purchasing what looked like the easiest possible screen printing kit – EZ ScreenPrint. It totally lives up to its’ name. It’s virtually foolproof and I’ve made several screens successfully already.

As I understand it, creating a traditional screen goes something like this:

1) You start with a silk mesh stapled to a wooden frame.

2) You squeegee emulsion fluid to the screen and let it dry. It has to be THE RIGHT amount. This fluid is light sensitive.

3) You print your design in black onto a transparency (whatever’s in black is where the ink will go through).

4)  You put the transparency onto your screen and expose it in direct sunlight (exposure time varies)

5) You take your screen inside, remove the transparency and rinse your screen in water. The emulsion that was not exposed to the sun (because your design was blocking it) will rinse off, leaving the bare screen, and the areas that were exposed to the sun will have hardened emulsion that prevents any ink from passing through.

6) After everything dries you print.

Did I mention that if you have a multi-color design you need to create a screen for each color? Ya. It’s involved.

EZ ScreenPrint takes out a few of the steps. The process goes like this:IMG_4223

1) Print design onto transparency.

2) Places it on a clear plastic plate (provided)

3) Take your screen (which already has the perfect amount of dried emulsion on it) and place it over your transparency).

4) Place a black board (provided) over the screen and clip everything together with binder clips (provided)

5) Expose for 1 minute in direct sunlight.

6) Soak for 15 minutes, rinse emulsion off, let it dry in the sun again, tape it to a plastic frame (not provided – I had to buy it separately and didn’t realize it until I was ready to print) and print.

So basically, the process is shortened drastically by the fact that the screens come with emulsion already on it. All I have to do is print my design and expose it, then rinse and dry and voila! I have a screen ready to go, reusable for as long as I want – provided that I take really good care of the screens.


I’m still of course, getting used to the printing technique. I have one tiny bottle of screen printing ink and I obviously get the best results from that. This print above was made with acrylic paint, and it’s a little too runny. Because the screen is flooded with paint and the paint drawn down with a squeegee, it’s important to have paint that is the right consistency so it fits through the mesh but doesn’t run everywhere like it did in this print. See the strokes from the squeegee? Too much paint, and too runny. Still, I’m completely stoked that this printing method is now within reach. I’m going to try this particular design on hats, shirts and tote bags.

I gotta say though, what REALLY excites me about screen printing is the potential to design and create my own fabric. I don’t want to make whole garments with it, just small little pieces like zippered pouches. Today I created a screen using this lokelani design (the photo below is just a small sample screen). Lokelani is a Hawaiian variety of rose, and I’m so excited to use this design in small zippered pouches. Assuming that I enjoy this process (especially the sewing) this will be the first of several designs. IMG_4268

After being so much into digital stuff and not actually making or printing stuff with ink, making screens and working with actual paint over the last few days has been really refreshing, and addicting. I can’t wait to have some final products made. I’m hoping that soon I’ll be able to do all my own printing for my business. This could either be really awesome, or really exhausting and time consuming and not sustainable. 72 hours in, it’s still really awesome.

Mahalo Cards No. 2


I’ve been meaning to create more Mahalo (thank you) cards (no. 2 since this is my second ever Mahalo notecard). I always have ideas floating in my mind…it’s just a matter of getting it out onto the computer. Last week I made these. It’s the first time I’ve tried incorporating my own handwriting into a design (besides the SoPupuka logo), and I’m pleasantly surprised because I’ve always hated my handwriting. I used the Paper app by Fifty Three to write “Mahalo”, sent it over to Illustrator to vectorize it (vectorizing turns images into lines that can be manipulated) and resized and moved things around to the right dimensions for a card. Added some fun background colors and a “seriously.” on the bottom because (ironically), I don’t want this card to be taken too…err…seriously.  These will be printed and sent off to Sugarcane Shop as soon as I get back from vacation.

Pattern Play No. 1

Pixel Patterns No1-01

For many weeks I’ve been feeling the overwhelm of having a TON of stuff to do (learn photoshop, learn html, learn css, design stuff for clients, figure out how to work with clients, cook, clean, change diapers, BLOG, etc.) and no clear direction on how to get this stuff done. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and I’m going to start calming my life down by really defining this blog (so at least I have it straight in my head). Here goes:

SoPupuka is a design/business blog where I share what I’m learning about graphic and web design, running an online business, freelancing, and balancing work with family. From this space you can buy my products, read tutorials, download freebies and hire me (coming soon!).

I’m kicking off this shift in focus with a freebie! This is a great way to practice techniques I’m learning, and right now, pattern-making strikes my fancy. I’ve created five pixel patterns in Photoshop. This .zip file includes 5 .pat files, and 1600 x 1600 jpg files of each pattern. Look for more stuff like this in the future!

Click here to download


p.s. Feel free to share this link and use the files in your own personal/commercial projects, but DO NOT re-distribute these through any other channel other than this link (even if you’re giving it away.)

Handmade Holiday: Suuuper Easy DIY Wreath

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Ok so this is MOSTLY handmade. In the end I fizzled out and bought something to decorate the wreath with  because I just wanted to get it up on the door and be done with it.

I don’t know who thought of this, but I saw it on Pinterest eons ago and decided it was the kind of thing that was simple and easy enough for me to do, AND I can get a lot of mileage out of this one. The idea is to have a neutral wreath and swap out seasonal accents. My plan was to make it in time for Halloween. I didn’t finish it until after Thanksgiving. Ha! Life of a mother. At least it’s all set for Christmas.

I thought this wreath was pretty self-explanatory: Wrap a styrofoam wreath in grey yarn. BOOM. DONE. I really don’t know how to break it down further except to explain how I started and ended the project. You can adhere the end of the yarn to the styrofoam if you want, I didn’t. I simply started wrapping, making sure to cover the end with yarn so it would stay in place. At the end I simply tied a few knots on the back, but you could also glue that end down as well. Just make sure that whatever you do you do it to the back.

The accent is an ornament I bought at Target. I strung it up with grey thread (maybe I should’ve used fishing line…oh well) I thought it would be nice to have something that jingles, so the “red snow-flake bell”  won. People are doing some really awesome crafty things with this wreath but I like the simple lines of one singular ornament. I hung it on the door using a command hook. Another idea I read recently was to staple the string to the top side of the door so you don’t get holes in the front of the door. I’ll do that next year.