Printing white ink onto dark garments.


Yesterday I screen printed some t-shirts for Greg from ALLEYKATS a fellow Two's Company Studios buddy. I don't really print t-shirts or textiles any more as I made the conscious decision to dedicate my time to printing onto paper a couple of years back. However I do like a change from time to time, and so we headed up to Hamilton house in stokes croft to use the t-shirt carousel which is available to rent here.

Printing white ink onto dark garments used to drive me up the wall. It's all everyone wanted to do, and it was extremely difficult to achieve a good opacity without using horrible plastisol inks. However a few years back I went up to my supplier of all things screen printing related, Dave Roper to see some new water-based inks being demonstrated by a company from Italy called Virus Inks. Amongst all sorts of crazy special effects inks, they supply a high opacity white called 'hydra first down white'. This can be used as a white base, or flash base as it's known, so you can over print vibrant colours onto dark garments, or on it's own as a white ink onto dark.

I hadn't used this ink for ages until yesterday, and doing so inspired me to write a blog post outlining how good this ink really is. You can print it with minimal effort, it's nothing like trying to force plastisol ink through a screen. It's water-based and so you just clean down using water. The opacity is as good as you will ever see from any product, regardless of what it's made from. You can use your old plastisol 43T mesh screens if you don't print with too much pressure, however I've found a 54T mesh is a little bit more forgiving when it comes to prints mushrooming. Make sure you flood covering the stencil without forcing the ink into the mesh, this will keep the screen open for longer, and have lots of ink to play with on your screen it stops it drying out. You should also add some retarder and reducer to the ink as it will help slow down the drying and it'll flow a lot smoother. The entire Virus Inks range is available from the main man Dave Roper.