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Picture-Frame Silk Screens

Use this simple technique to make beautiful silk-screen dog prints, perfect for decorating tote bags, T-shirts, and more.

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, January 2009


  • Flat picture frame, with all hardware removed.

  • Sheer curtain fabric, cut 2 to 3 inches larger than the frame on all sides

  • Safety goggles

  • Electric staple gun and staples

  • Hammer

  • Acrylic varnish sealant

  • Masking tape

  • Plain white paper (for one use of stencil) or waterproof paper (for multiple uses)

  • Craft knife


  1. Lay sheer curtain over frame. Wearing safety goggles, use an electric staple gun to place a staple in the top center of frame. Pull fabric taut; place second staple directly across from first in bottom of frame.

  2. Continue stapling in this manner, on all sides of the screen, always placing the next staple opposite the previous one. Keep the grain of the fabric fairly straight in relation to the frame for best results when printing. The finished screen should be firm to the touch, so you could place something on the fabric without it dipping.

  3. Hammer down any raised staples. Seal the frame with acrylic varnish sealant to keep ink and water from getting under the staples while printing and washing. Allow to dry for 30 minutes.

  4. Tape underside of frame to keep ink from traveling under the screen as you print and to cushion printing surface from staples.

  5. Print templates. Place tape over intricate areas of stencil to reinforce them. Cut away black areas of stencil with a craft knife.

  6. Flip stencils so they face the correct way when looking at the front of screen, and tape to back of screen. Tape off area between edge of image and edge of frame.

  7. Place a piece of paper inside the tote to keep ink from bleeding through to other side. Tape the tote to the table with masking tape on all four sides.

  8. Mark center point on screen and on tote bag. Place screen down on tote bag, lining up center marks.

  9. Spread a bead of pigment at the base of screen, the width of the squeegee. Pull squeegee across screen; tap off excess ink and pull back. Repeat. Gently lift off screen, starting with one side and then the other. Wash and dry screen. Allow printed tote to dry.

  10. Tape second stencil to screen as you did the first. Print over the dried first image with a second color. Wash and dry screen.

  11. Heat-set by ironing with a press cloth for 3-6 minutes, or place in a dryer for 30 minutes on high.

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