ribbed fabric def gonna be a challenge
*pushes up printmaking nerd glasses*
So I’ve screenprinted on ribbed shirts before and managed to get the hang of it & I think it might apply to block printing as well. Having absolutely no background to the original setup pictured above, there are a few things at play here:
1- Make sure the cardboard inside the shirt is slightly bigger, so that there is a slight stretch to it. Not so big that it’ll cause distortions, but it’ll be better to…
2- Make sure that the t-shirt is stuck down to the board and will not move. Personally, I prefer using masonite/scrap gessoboards that I’ve had lying around to work as a proper platen. Use a spray adhesive (super 77 is good for both t-shirts and paper if you’re going for what you can find in the local art store, otherwise consider picking up a textile silk screen spray adhesive for platens) and put a light layer on so your shirt sticks but isn’t stuck - it’s nice to rub a scrap of fabric on it so it gets a little bit of lint all over it to make it sticky but not stuck-sticky. Give your platen time to dry the first go around so it doesn’t peel off with the back of your shirt.
This is also why I like masonite, because you can scrape it off if it becomes too gross or gets tiny balls of lint stuck in it that over time become big lumps that fuck with your prints. If you want to use wood, consider sealing it first & wrapping the edges in duct tape to avoid splinters and tearing your fabric. Heavy felt is also good to wrap the whole thing in for on-contact printing.
3- Use less ink than you’d think. It’s going to go further than on flat fabrics and honestly, with ribbed fabrics and images that aren’t tiny detailed, they’ll look better less saturated than more. Black is especially notorious for being hyper pigmented and prone to bleeding.
4- Bonus: since you’re using a block and it’s likely causing a bit of shifting on the ribbed fabric when you’re applying pressure with a brayer or weights, you might want to consider cutting a jig into some cardboard so you can just drop the block straight down and it won’t move around.
Cut a semi circle as a thumb hole so you can retrieve your block using your fingers or a flathead screw driver and just pop it out.
This can also help with your registration - use a big piece of cardboard, then line it up where you’d want it. Make sure it’s big enough to go over the neck seam. draw a semicircle following where the neck hole is under the cardboard, now you can line that up with every shirt and it’ll print the same height on all the shirts.
…man, I need to get back to documenting screenprinting methods on my blog =\