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How To: Watercolor

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Soft hand prints are often demanded by your customers. They saw a tee in the mall and insist a white print on a black poly/cotton should have no feel whatsoever. Perhaps they want a vintage or worn look right out of the box. Regardless, you are a plastisol screen printer and you know they really want that water-based feel. Thanks to some innovation on our part, plastisol can now feel just like water-based ink…and I’m not talking about those high solids water-based inks that feel like a regular plastisol ink. I am talking about a super-soft feel on ring spun, tri-blend, and other premium tees.

Vintage Watercolor

Although Watercolor is much more opaque than standard water-based inks, this is not a high opacity ink you can screen print on top of black fabric and expect vivid results. However, this will provide you with an outstanding vintage or worn look without creating special art work. It is an appearance many of my customers are requesting but they may not be crafty in CorelDraw or Photoshop.

Directions are simple, print through a fine screen mesh and don’t deposit too much ink.  Certainly do not print, flash, and print again. Watercolor is a wet-on-wet ink. There is never a need to flash these inks unless you are printing with them as your general purpose ink on a white base. Watercolor will simply not pick up on the back of the screen and cause a gummy mess. It is designed to “wick” into the fabric, keeping the ink off the next screen and providing that classy soft hand feel.

One important note: When screen printing Watercolor, this ink will only be as soft as the fabric being printed. If you select a cheap poly/cotton tee, expect a cheap feel. This is unavoidable. We push our Watercolor customers into ring spun, tri-blend, burnout, and other soft cotton tees. These premium products will provide a premium look and feel.

Vivid Watercolor

I know, you want that bold scarlet, orange, gold, or white print on a black fabric with virtually no feel. Watercolor can do this…but it comes with a price. Similar to water-based inks, you will need to print a discharge base. This will remove the dye from the fabric leaving a natural color. I really don’t like to recommend the use of a discharge base, or any discharge ink. There are nasty chemicals involved in the process. Unfortunately, this can sometimes be a necessary evil to achieve this look.

The Watercolor inks will easily cover this natural color with a fine screen mesh. Now you have a super-soft feel with a vivid, bold look. Your customers will be thrilled. You didn’t have to deal with the on-press nightmare of water-based inks. Everybody wins!

General Purpose Watercolor

Why wouldn’t you want to print with Watercolor as your general purpose ink? It can do everything Wilflex Genesis and Union Ultrasoft can do. However, Watercolor is softer, easier-to-print, and available in far more colors then either. Watercolor has the opacity and the ability to print wet-on-wet better than any ink I have ever tested. It is an impressive combination.

Author: Robb Mears

Director of Product Development with One Stroke Inks.

One thought on “How To: Watercolor

  1. I need to try this ink!

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