Lesson 3: Silkscreen Printing

Preparing and Exposing Photographic Silkscreens
Student is coating the screen using emulsion and scoop coater in a room with a yellow safe light

Students learn to coat and expose their own image onto a silkscreen.

Suggested Time Frame:

2-4 class periods 


  • Students will coat silkscreens with a light sensitive emulsion
  • Students will expose the silkscreens using their film positives


Diazo screen printing emulsion for water-based inks 1 open silkscreen for every 5 students1 silkscreen per student for the photographic layer
Student’s Film Positive transparenciesDegreasing soap – For example, Dawn dishwashing liquid. This same soap can be used to wash the ink out of silkscreens. Do not use any soap to wash screens that contains bleach. Scoop coater
Light-tight box or dark roomExposing unit*Comet Cleanser


  1. Present PowerPoint - Preparing & Exposing Photographic Silkscreens.
  2. *If your screens are new, clean them first with Comet to roughen the surface of the fabric. Only do this if the screens are new, and then never use Comet again. Comet contains bleach, which is harmful to your screens if used over time.
  3. Dilute degreasing soap with water and pour into a plastic bottle with a nozzle.
  4. Wash silkscreens using the degreasing soap. Thoroughly rinse and dry silkscreens.
  5. Read and follow all of the instructions that come with the emulsion. Sensitize the emulsion, stir, and let sit for 60 minutes to allow time for the air bubbles to rise to the surface.
  6. In a darkened room or in a room with a yellow safe light, coat silkscreens with the emulsion and scoop coater. Follow the directions included with the emulsion.
  7. Store the coated silkscreens in a dark room or light-tight box until they are dry. Screens may be stacked on top of each other using blocks in between to save space. Screens should dry with the flat side down (the side you used the squeegee on should be facing up). They need to dry perfectly flat. If the screen is tilted even the slightest bit, then the emulsion might dry unevenly and run off the screen. Once the screens are dry they may be put in black plastic garbage bags until you are ready to expose them.
  8. Expose the silkscreen with the students’ Film Positives. A screen exposure chart should be included with your emulsion. If not, you will need to test exposure times. A good time to start with is 5 minutes.
  9. Wash out the screens and dry them completely before the students print their first layers. Follow the wash-out instructions included with the emulsion.

Warhol Education Rubrics

Click the Warhol Rubric headers below to reveal associated rubrics to which this lesson applies.

Creative Process
Media and Related Items
Preparing and Exposing Screens
Preparing and Exposing Screens