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Puff paint is making a comeback! If you love the raised feeling of puffy ink on your shirt, this technique is for you.
No more squirting on puff paint from a tube. You can screen print designs cut on your Cricut or Silhouette, then watch as the ink rises.
Screen Printing with Vinyl
If you are new to screen printing with vinyl, here's a beginner's course to help you get started. With your Cricut or Silhouette, you can cut any design and screen print it for a better quality shirt.
If you have been using HTV or iron-on vinyl for your shirts, you will love screen printing. With the same flexibility to create your own custom designs, you can start making better quality shirts. Screen printing ink absorbs into the fabric, leaving a permanent design that won't peel up.
Learn more about screen printing with vinyl. Then, continue reading this post for details on how to use screen printing to make a puffy ink project!
Supplies Needed for Screen Printing
- Screen Printing Frame – I used the 16×20 size for this project
- Jacquard Puff Additive
- Speedball Fabric Ink (I used Speedball opaque pearl ink but any color will work)
- Oracal 651 Vinyl
- Cricut Maker
- Cricut Mat
- Cricut 24″x36″ Mat
- My Favorite Transfer Tape
- Painter’s Tape
- Heat Gun
- Plastic Syringes
- Screen Printing Press (recommended)
- Blank ComfortWash Tank
Mixing the Ink
I use Speedball fabric inks for all of my screen printing projects. This ink is water-based so it is easy to clean up and easy to cure. You don't need any fancy equipment. You can cure the ink with a household iron or basic press.
To get the puffy effect, I use Jacquard Puff Additive mixed with my favorite Speedball ink colors. You can even use this when you're mixing custom Speedball colors.
Mix 5 parts Speedball fabric ink with 1 part Jacquard Puff Additive. I used 20ml plastic syringes to measure this accurately. For one shirt, 30ml Speedball fabric ink and 6ml Jacquard Puff Additive created just the right amount of ink. I may have been able to get 2 or 3 more shirts out of it too.
Using a Screen Printing Press
If you love screen printing, I highly encourage you to get one of these basic screen printing presses. They take the guesswork out of your ink coverage. If you lift the screen and notice that you missed a spot, you can lower the screen back down to add more ink.
When you're screen printing on a table, once you lift the screen, you can put it back accurately to add more ink. This is where the press really comes in handy.
If you want to learn how to use a screen printing press, be sure to checkout my online course that will teach you everything you need to know to master the press.
Heat the Ink to Activate and Watch it Puff Up
Once you have printed your design, it's time for the fun part! Grab your heat gun and start drying the ink. As it dries, you will see the ink start to puff up. It's amazing!
TIP: Move your heat gun around constantly – making sure it doesn't stay in one spot too long. This will help you avoid leaving burn marks on your shirt!
TIP: Don't heat press your shirt! You will lose the puffy texture. Just make sure you heat it well with the heat gun and that will set the ink.
Jacquard recommends that you allow the ink to air dry for 72 hours after you use the heat gun to allow full curing of the ink.
Flock Iron-On Vinyl vs. Screen Printing with Puff Additive
If you use iron-on vinyl, this screen printing process will help you achieve a similar feel to flock transfer vinyl.
Typically I choose screen printing because of the feel it leaves on the shirt. The ink soaks into the material leaving a nice soft feel. I was never crazy about how HTV felt on a shirt.
This puff additive process creates a textured, raised ink feel on your shirt. There are some projects that call for this type of texture, so having a way to do this with screen printing is exciting. I will pick screen printing over HTV any day!
Thank you so much for this fun tutorial. I do not have a heat gun yet but I saw on the Jacquard’s website that you can cure in the oven. Have you done this? I am not sure about the settings I need to do. I saw on another tutorial you said to preheat to 400 then turn off but I wasn’t sure if you thought it would be the same for the puff? Thank you again!
What mesh screen size did you use for this? 110? Thanks.
Yes, I used the 110 mesh that comes on the Speedball frames.