Using acrylic floor finish on my screensOK, Ok, that title was a horrible pun. However; I did want to talk about something I've been experimenting with for the last couple of days. The usage of acrylic floor finish (similar to Future (which I suppose is now a Pledge floor finish that includes Future)) on my screens.
It goes on the framesI make my own screens. I generally do this with 'stretcher bars' which are made to stretch canvas. I like them because I can get the bars in various sizes so I can make a variety of different sized screens. One problem with them is that unless I do something to make them water resistant, they will warp as I wash the screens following the application of emulsion or ink. I've tried various ways of making them water resistant. Thompson's Water Seal spray, spray acrylic fixative, duck tape (or duct, if you prefer that), Mod Podge. Nothing really struck me as exceptionally useful/easy/cost effective.
I have some off-brand acrylic floor finish that I use to protect and add gloss to some of my polymer clay items. It occurred to me that it might work really well in making the stretcher bars water resistant. Turns out that it's excellent. Exceptionally easy to apply, and not very expensive. So far, it seems to be working very well; however, I'm going to have to stress test some of the frames over the coming weeks to see how long it holds up.
It goes on the screens themselves
I've also been using it to fill in the borders of the screen printing fabric that do not have emulsion. That has to be done to keep the ink from getting through to the material. I generally use tape on both sides of the screen, mostly the blue painters tape (which sticks surprisingly well, considering how easy it is to get off when I want it off), although sometimes I'll use clear packing tape. I have also tried Mod Podge, because it helps to be able to see though to the shirt/item beneath the screen to get the position right - something that's not possible with the painters tape. However, I've never really been too satisfied with the Mod Podge for this. It's slow to apply, and it's more translucent than transparent.
So I've been using the acrylic floor finish for this too. So far I'm mostly satisfied. It's very clear, and it's doing a great job of keeping the ink from getting through. On the downside, with the fabric store fabric that I use (haven't tried it on actual screen print fabric yet), I have to use at least two coats to fill everything in. Being much easier to apply than the Mod Podge, this isn't really a big deal though.
Now it's just a matter of stress testing the fabric too. I'll have to see how well it stands up to the repeated washings and scrubbing with soft-bristled nylon brushes when I'm cleaning the screen.