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Silk-Screened Playing Cards

Learn how to create your own unique silk screened playing card.

Project by Emily Arkin of Somerville, Mass.

Emily was doodling, trying to come up with a design for a tattoo. She was so taken by the image she created that she decided to use it as the basis for the silkscreen design for a pack of playing cards. In this project, Emily makes a charming batch of cards in a handcrafted box.

Materials and Tools:

2' x 3' silkscreen
photo emulsion solution
photo emulsion remover
acetate with photocopy of design
lamp with photoflood light bulb
2' x 3' glass plate
masking tape
Scotch tape
egg timer
2' x 3' card stock
red, green, black screenprinting ink
pinking shears
garden hose with spray nozzle
scrub brush
electric fan

Figure A


1. Lay out card design (all of one-color cards) and make a transparency at the copy shop.

2. Coat silkscreen with emulsion, let dry.

3. Burn transparent design into emulsion with a light table. Wash and dry the screen. Note: Only the areas that were black in the transparency will wash out and the rest will prevent ink from going through the screen.

Figure B

4. Clamp screen to your work table (so it hinges up but always lands in the same place). Tape transparency to a sample piece of card stock to line up the screen with the card stock. Put masking tape down aside the corners of the card stock as registration marks for where to lay it each time.

Figure C

5. Mix ink color and pour along top of screen.

6. Place card stock under screen and squeegee ink through. Dry each piece separately (on any available surface — the floor works, but don't step on them!) Repeat as necessary; you can make as many copies as you want but not all of them (or perhaps none of them) will come out "perfectly."

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