When you put the screens in the press you want the images to be exactly in the right place. You do not want the image exposed too high, too low, or crooked in the screen. You might not be able to move the screen in the press to compensate for this exposure mistake. When printing the American flag, we want the red and white stripes to just touch while the frame is firmly secured in the press. If a ruler is used to locate the positive on a screen, the process is slow and sure to result in beautiful screens you cannot use, because the image is in the wrong place.
The solution is a Screen Registration Guide that you build in 10 minutes from materials that you either have or can get easily enough. You need a flat board like plywood larger than the screen. You also need two wood strips. One is screwed into the plywood along one edge of the plywood. Then lay a screen against that strip of wood and use another side of the screen as a guide to locate the second wood strip against the screen at 90 degrees from the first wood strip. Then screw the second wood strip into the plywood. Now every time you lay a screen down on the plywood against the two wood strips the screen will always be exactly in the same place.
Next get a screen that is stretched very tight with mesh that is preferable a high mesh count like 230 or 305. Measure across the screen to find the center point on the mesh, and mark with a fine pointed pen. Repeat this process two more times so the three dots can be connected and a center line drawn down the screen. Now follow the same procedure to create a horizontal center line. You should have a cross drawn in the mesh of the screen.
Graph or lined paper as large as the screen should be drawn with a cross also. This graph paper is then slipped between the plywood and screen that is butted up against the wood strips until the cross in the mesh and on the paper match exactly. The paper is taped down to the plywood. Remove the screen, and place a clear plastic sheet over the paper to protect the paper, and tape the plastic in place. You have now completed building the Screen Registration Guide.
To use the Screen Registration Guide, lay a positive down on the plastic using the printed lines on the paper under the plastic sheet as a guide to make sure your image will be straight in the screen and centered. Use two pieces of cellophane tape to secure the film positive that has your image in position. If the job you will be printing is more than one color, then put the second, third, etc., image on top of the first registering one color to the other using the registration marks and art. Each film positive is secured separately. If you will be laminating capillary film later, then you will need two copies of each positive.
Add double stick tape strips 1” long in each of the 4 corners of the top positive. Then butt the coated screen up against the two wood strips of the Screen Registration Guide and close the screen down on to the pile of positives like closing a clam shell. The print side of the screen will come into contact with the double stick tape, and you will be able to lift the top positive off of the pile. Expose the screen. If laminating capillary film, remove the positive from the exposed screen and put the film positive back on the Screen Registration Guide exactly where the positive was before you picked it up from the pile. Then later after the screen has been washed out from the first exposure, and coated with a second sheet of capillary film, and dried, the screen can be returned to the Screen Registration Guide to pick up that positive again and again as many times as pieces of capillary film you want to add to the screen.
To learn more on this subject, see the video:
“Screen Registration Guide”
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