How to Create a Simple Paper Cut T Shirt Screen Print

Paper cut art

Paper cut screen printing is an easy, affordable way to screen print T Shirts for your team or organisation.

Paper cut screen-printing is an old fashioned method and yet it is still one of the best. This is because there is no need for fancy equipment. The technique is cost effective and the printing can be done very quickly, if the artist spends a little time getting prepared and setting up a work area.

Preparing the Art Work for Screen-printing

The design for screen-printing must remain very simple. This makes it easier to cut out the positive shapes. This white on black design has been cut out with a scalpel. The first step was to draw the idea and then black out the background with a wide tipped felt pen. You may need to draw quite a few versions of your idea until you have simplified the design sufficiently to enable easy cutting.

You will need to think about the islands of lettering. The D, R and A required thought as to how the centre of the letters would be held in place for printing. The D and R has small connectors left intact, whilst the centre of the A was placed back into the letter and adhered to the screen in the center of the letter when the viscous fabric ink was pushed through the screen.

As it was designed, the strings of the drum were simplified to their essential elements and the shape of the drum was merely suggested by the fact that the slim ropes were wrapped around them. These are the kinds of problems the artist will need to address when they draw up the design. It is always a good idea to run proofs of the print until the idea has been well developed.

Cut Paper Stencil Screen Printing Materials List

On this small poster you will see a list of the materials needed to complete a screen print on T shirts. They include:

  • Scissors and scalpel with a cutting board
  • Palette knife or spatula
  • Sticky tape and newspaper
  • Silk screen and squeegee with plastic or litho paper
  • T Shirts and fabric printing ink
  • Drawing tools and paper
  • Ironing board, iron and photocopy paper
  • A large work space with table and plenty of space to lay out shirts for drying

Cut Paper Screen Printing Technique

Once you have drawn up the design, carefully cut it out with a scalpel. Be sure to retain the islands of the design so that they can be put in place under the screen. They will adhere to the screen as the first ink is pushed through.

Place newspaper inside each shirt before you begin printing. This will protect the back side of the shirt from the ink as it is pushed through. When all seems settled and well in place, set the screen over the cut out design. Ladle the fabric ink onto the screen in the bottom section of the frame. Holding the squeegee firmly, scoop up the fabric ink. Again – firmly draw the squeegee down across the screen and at an almost perpendicular angle but sloping towards your body so that the blade catches the ink.

Check for cover of the ink on the material surface and repeat this process if you feel that not enough fabric ink has gone through the screen. It is better to have someone working with you at this stage. Have them remove the T-shirt and replace it with another. Continue the process until all shirts are printed and laid out to dry.

Heat Setting Fabric Ink

Once you are happy with the prints they must be left to dry. When they are completely dry, cover each print with some photocopy paper and iron to heat set the ink. When ironing the shirts be careful not to have the iron too hot. Check the label on the container for temperature and duration. Rotate the iron all the while you have it in contact with the ink. Do not burn the ink because you will be able to see scorch marks. This can ruin an otherwise attractive print.

Cut paper is a cost effective screen printing method. How cost effective depends on how many shirts are in the run. This example cost about $1 a print not including the cost of the shirt. If you are doing this for yourself or your group this is very inexpensive but could cost a lot more of you are paying someone to do the work for you.