Blog No. 8 / Nine Easy Steps to Silk-screen Printing on Glass / by steve joseph

Silk-screening on glass is very similar to silk-screening on paper, except for two big differences, the glass doesn’t absorb the ink, and, in my studio, I kiln fire the enamel based paint to the surface of the glass. I have been printing on glass for over 6 years, I’m sure there are other options out there, but this method works best.  

I leave the production of the screens to the experts: 'Standard Silkscreen' located here in New York. They are online and deliver world wide and are great time savers.  

1. I use metal hinges, also available at Standard Silk-screen, to secure the screen onto the wooden surface.

2. Align the glass on the wood surface. The glass you see in this example has been previously screened and fired twice, once with yellow enamels, fired, the screened with green enamel. I intentionally add registration marks when the design has more than one color. These registration marks will be hidden behind the frame.

Notice the white spacers on the right and left of the art. These keep the screen slightly above the glass when printing.

3. Lay the screen down over the glass and check on the alignment.

4. Add your well mixed printing solution at the bottom of the screen. There are many solutions on the market. In my studio and when I teach I use color line paints you can buy through Bullseye.

5. Using a squeegee, lightly spread the printing solution at 45 degrees evenly to the top of the screen. This is called coating the screen or the flood stroke. You don’t want the printing solution to touch the glass, so don’t press too hard, or lift the screen slightly. 

6. Now make a print. Pressing hard, firm and evenly pull the squeegee down at 90 degrees, evenly to the base of the screen. It is okay to print twice if you feel the print was not even.

7. If you are doing more prints, flood the screen again before removing the print. It is best to keep the screen as moist as possible. 

8. Cleanup all excess paint and store in a glass jar. If this is your last print or if you are changing colors, clean the screen before the solution dries. This paint is toxic so follow local regulation for disposal. The screen has to be fully dry before making a new print.

9. Kiln fire the glass. This piece has blue enamel airbrushed as a last step, which was also kiln fired. 
If you what to learn this process in person, contact Joseph directly , he offers inexpensive private sessions in his studio in the East Village of Manhattan. Also view upcoming classes Cavalieri teaches around the world.

“Dakota Under Glass” (private collection).