Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Making a Print Table

Since I've been doing so much printing lately, I thought I'd post instructions on how to make your own print tables. They're easy to make and essential if you want to do any printing or stamping on fabric. The "firm softness" of the print table gives much clearer definition and sharper edges to your printing and stamping and since they're so easy there's no reason not to make at least one! I have five of them because I take them when I'm teaching, they're portable and easy to lift in and out of the car. I would love to have a dedicated table at home, just for printing but these are the next best thing as I can lift them on and off the art table and store them upright in a corner of my room. Since I have a few of them I can print a piece of fabric, put it to one side to dry, then go on to make another and another on the other tables.

I stretch 3 layers of cotton batting over the plywood and staple gun the edges on the back. Make certain you have a good 2" extra on all four sides to bring around to the back. Its really much easier to have someone to help you with this.

I have used pieces of batting that I've joined together with a butted seam (don't overlap edges or you'll get bumps on the top). You can also use industrial felt, old blankets or towels. Just make certain that the product is absorbent and will stand up to heat and steam. Avoid anything too bouncy such as polyester batting or synthetics.

The top layer is a medium-heavy muslin or unbleached cotton. A lighter coloured fabric is easier on the eyes and you can see if images are running through your printing fabric. Avoid thinner fabrics as they can rip too easily. Staple this layer (or two) separately to the back of the plywood, again stretching well but not straining the fabric. By stapling the batting and the muslin separately it is easy to replace the muslin when it becomes too stained. You can also try using the stained muslin as an interesting piece of art cloth!

Now you are ready to use your print table, the thick batting means its easy to pin your fabrics into the table (I use T pins so I can print right over them). Place the pins so the sharp end is towards the centre of the fabric. This way they won't come out if  there is any tension on the fabric. In fact, you should pull the edges of the fabrics slightly so there is some tautness but no distortion.

In my perfect world, I'd love a 4" x 8" sheet of plywood made up into table for larger printing, but what I have works well for me. You can also make a table from foam core (Michaels has 1/2" thick sheets), thicker sheets of styrofoam or heavy cardboard. Try it!

1 comment:

Linda Kennedy said...

I use bulletin boards (cork on one side, fiberboard on the other) that I find at thrift stores to make my print tables. They work great for this purpose!