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Lomo T-shirt Printing!

Nothing feels better than wearing a shirt you designed yourself!

I was glad to have worked at a college – as staff we are also allowed to use some of the facilities for our personal experiments and explorations. As my college offers art and design courses, there is a print studio for students to do silkscreen printing and other print making stuff. It is one of my favourite places to hang out, not just because of the things we can do in there, but also the great student-tutor atmosphere.

One day I decided to design and print my own Lomo t-shirt! This article will document the step-by-step process of it, hopefully this will also give you some insights of how basic t-shirt print making is done.

First step: Get a blank shirt! I sometimes get mine at department stores; it’s quite hard to find totally empty ones as nowadays, too many shirts have unnecessary designs on them. Afterwards, I went online to find images of Lomographic cameras. My idea was to have a row of small cameras in bright colours, hence I copied the images of 8 Lomographic cameras as the number fits just across the chest area of the shirt.

I converted them into simpler shapes using Adobe Illustrator’s live trace function. Then, all the shapes must be changed into black for a technical reason that I’ll touch later. I had the designs printed out using a laser printer (from the staff office); bubble jet printer won’t work because for the next step you have to coat the paper using cooking oil.

This part is to make the paper a little bit transparent / translucent, with only the designs remaining black. Ink from bubble jet will smudge when it is wet.

The excessive oil on the surface is then absorbed dry using newspaper.

Putting the oiled paper aside, the next step is to do the frame. It is basically a wooden rectangular frame with a silkscreen cloth (something like a curtain sheer fabric) that is tightly pulled and stapled on one side.

Then, the chemical part begins – the big black tub contains photo emulsion, a purple gooey substance that will react when exposed to light. The smaller bottle is iodine, which is needed to mix together with the photo emulsion.

As the following steps must be done in dark areas, no photos are available; but essentially what you have to do is to mix the 2 chemicals together, scoop some into the silver tray and, with the frame held up vertically, thinly coat the silkscreen surface with a layer of the chemical. The surface is then dried with a hairdryer.

Then comes the big machine part! This is a light exposure machine.

It has rows of white fluorescent tube lighting below the glass surface. The oiled paper with designs is placed on the glass surface first, then followed by the frame with the dried photo emulsion on top of it.

The machine cover is then closed and switched on for about 4-6 minutes. What happens this time is the light from the machine will expose the designs on the paper onto the purple screen. The white part (translucent) of the paper will let light shine through, making the purple substance permanent; while the black part (camera design) will block out the light, leaving the purple substance as it is.

After removing from the machine, the subtle designs of the camera designs can be seen on the purple layer! The next step is to remove the purple photo emulsion layer from the screen; it’s a simple process, by just shooting water at it!

The blank parts with no design let light shine through, making the purple substance permanent and cannot be removed, so only the purple substance on the cameras will peel off. The end result would be a see-through shape of the camera designs!

The frame is also dried with a hairdryer. I only used half of it as the frame I’m using is a big one.

Right, it’s a long process, but now comes the fun part – the printing itself! First, the screen needs to be checked to make sure there are no unwanted holes from the water shooting. If it’s the case, masking tape is used to cover them up.

Then, a cardboard is placed inside the shirt to maintain a flat surface so it won’t stretch.

Then the frame with the designs is positioned on top of the shirt, wherever we want them to be. The colours to be used are fabric paint; normal paint won’t make it because they will wash off in the washing machine. I chose to use primary colours: red, yellow and blue for the designs.

After positioning and making sure of the alignment and everything, some small blobs of paint are then placed on top of the cameras. Sometimes we mixed a few of them to get whacky combinations! The frame is then held firmly onto the shirt, and with the use of a squeegee, drag down the paint over the “holes” (the camera designs that have no purple photo emulsion).

It must be done firm and slowly, and when lifted it up, the designs are printed onto the shirt!

I repeated the same steps for the Russian Lomo behind.

And there you go – dry them with hairdryer and the new shirt is ready to be worn!

written by shuttersentinel17

37 comments

  1. heneken

    heneken

    I want to start printing but I don't have the money to buy the stuff that's needed.
    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  2. cutebun

    cutebun

    Awesome! I want one! ^_^

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  3. dearjme

    dearjme

    NICE!!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  4. aoizumi

    aoizumi

    Thank you for detailing the process! I did screen printing before college, I now wonder if I could sneak back to borrow their equipment...

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  5. myvitaminx

    myvitaminx

    cool!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  6. dogtanian

    dogtanian

    Cool stuff, i studied screen printing at university, its so much fun!!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  7. exquisitenat

    exquisitenat

    Such a great idea!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  8. superlighter

    superlighter

    veeeery niiiiice

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  9. ipdegirl

    ipdegirl

    cool! i love the final design!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  10. mikeman85

    mikeman85

    neat

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  11. rting

    rting

    wow!
    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  12. itsdebraanne

    itsdebraanne

    you make it look so easy! haha. niice shirt tho (:

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  13. kerpella

    kerpella

    This is an awesome Tipster! First of all, great work! Secondly, I had no idea what was involved in screen printing (I thought it was much simpler than that!) so thanks for the educational article! Have you thought of selling these shirts? I would certainly buy one :P

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  14. eva_eva

    eva_eva

    This is awesome!!!! :D

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  15. shahirmomo

    shahirmomo

    very nice !

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  16. mishika

    mishika

    cool!!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  17. -puifun-

    -puifun-

    Woah! I want one too!! ^^

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  18. lomo-graf

    lomo-graf

    Great idea! But what a lot of work for just one T-shirt...

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  19. dnnrwr

    dnnrwr

    wahhhh, make me one :D
    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  20. mattiapiazzano

    mattiapiazzano

    You should get a job @Lomography!!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  21. narkalen

    narkalen

    you deserve like 10000000000000000 piggies

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  22. foodeanz

    foodeanz

    i learned this before in college...bout 10 years ago...thanks for reminds me the steps...i wanna make it too...hehehhe..

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  23. foodeanz

    foodeanz

    Instead of using the cooking oil, u can transfer the grafic on transparency. =)

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  24. nebulasixty

    nebulasixty

    nice..very useful info about silkscreen..thanks for sharing

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  25. mafiosa

    mafiosa

    so cool.

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  26. tomphilion

    tomphilion

    If I don't have a light exposure machine, can I use a light table?
    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  27. stouf

    stouf

    I want I want I want !!!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  28. arrogantbastage

    arrogantbastage

    Very nice! I, like others here, want one!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  29. hanibale

    hanibale

    I'm impreesed!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  30. paulabridi

    paulabridi

    Awesome! Wish I had all things needed to make a shirt like yours. And talent too, I'm such a mess making handicraft stuff...

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  31. pikc

    pikc

    Wow! Astonish!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  32. raven1126

    raven1126

    Everybody just getting with the T-shirt...
    Which including me... AAAAHHH!!!! I WANT I WANT XDDD

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  33. raven1126

    raven1126

    Everybody just getting crazy with the T-shirt...
    Which including me... AAAAHHH!!!! I WANT I WANT XDDD

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  34. jetnz81

    jetnz81

    Lolz~ really crazy with Lomo ^^

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  35. cecilialisbon

    cecilialisbon

    Oh wow wich I could do the same, love the tee shirt's graphic by the way, and colors :)

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  36. gabidandrea

    gabidandrea

    Great creative shirt!!

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  37. amedejulie

    amedejulie

    that`s cool !

    over 2 years ago · report as spam

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