So normally I've ordered my mesh screens with the chemicals already in place but I decided it wasn't very cost effective when I made mistakes because you can't reuse them. So I decided to take the scary leap and make my own emulsion screens. They are much nicer to work with and can be cleaned and reused over and over. Because its kind of an expensive hobby and I was a bit intimidated I did my research. Here are a few of my favorite links/videos that I found very helpful:
Etsy How To: Screen Printing & You
Make: Magazine Learn How to Screen Print
Silk Screen Printing Instructions
I get my screens (wood frame) and Diazo emulsion kits at Jerry's Artarama in Austin but you can buy the same supplies online HERE. I also use Speedball screen printing ink from Jerry's and have found that's my favorite brand to work with. If you buy a Diazo kit and follow the instructions to mix and apply the chemicals its pretty easy. I recommend starting with a small kit then you can buy in larger quantities later when you've mastered the processes. Once mixed the chemicals have a maximum shelf life of 4 months so unless your making and reusing a lot of screens a small bottle is usually efficient.
If you don't remember my father-in-law helped me make this great UV lightbox out of old luggage to burn my screens (see post HERE). Unfortunately I needed a larger, more powerful light source for the bigger screens. Using the light recommendations from the Silk Printing article above I purchased a 150watt light bulb and a pie pan then set up a portable rig on an old painters tripod I had laying around. Its quite handy as I can adjust the height from the screen by simply shifting the legs and folded up it takes up only a small space in my closet.
I keep two pieces of black foam core and different sized glass pieces on hand as recommended in the research I did. They are used to weight the transparency and protect the screen from light during the process as shown above. Overall applying and drying the chemicals takes me about 1-1/2 hours because I put heavy use to my screens so I double coat them. The burning process takes about 45 minutes with the 150 watt light bulb. I currently make all my own screens in my iddy bitty bathroom. I'd love to send my son off to daycare and work at a professional studio space such as the ASPCO here in Austin but there is something somewhat satisfying about making things the hard and dirty way. As my shop grows I will look to expand my abilities to mass produce product in the future but for now I'm happy to take over my kitchen once a month with beautiful fabrics and paints.
My first emulsion wood screen was made after my baby boy Achilles. He is currently eight years old, happy and healthy. I've had him since he was an eight week old puppy and to celebrate he is now immortalized in a stuff toy.