Making Baby Shower Invitations Pt. 2 + Screen Printing


Back at Christmas time, my brother and his girlfriend announced that when they had their first child they would give it some crazy name that even they didn't approve of. My parents looked at the two of them skeptically to which my brother responded "Don't worry! We're not pregnant!" This was the point in which they indicated that if my parents wanted a grandchild, they would have to rely on me. Ha. BIG mistake.

So when R (my brother) and S (his girl) announced that they were coming up, on a whim in early January to spend the weekend in Atlanta (They live close to Florida, nearly a 4 hour drive.) with the family, no one had any real reason to be suspicious. But apparently, we should have been. The 6 of us went to have Mexican at a nearby restaurant where the wait was horrendous. We waited over an hour to be seated!

Then, as if the night didn't already have enough complications, Justin and I had to stop by the grocery store on the way home to get dry ice so that he could finish making the ice cream he had started the night before. So when we walked into the house shortly after everyone else, we weren't terribly surprised to see them sitting and talking. We were, however, surprised when my mom announced "We need to tell you something. Sit down."

Justin and I didn't sit down, because we are stubborn like that. ;) I'll let you guess what was said.

Initial Design


Of course, the baby shower invitation planning didn't start until much later … at the end of June. Three hours at Sam Flax, planning, consulting, purchasing, and watercoloring … to start us off. Then, I wanted white text on dark grey envelopes. Justin and my dad looked at me like I was crazy. They both asked "How are you going to achieve that?" to which I responded "Printing", because clearly it would be just that easy.

Now let's stop to think about this for a moment.

Printing? with a printer? White ink? Hmmm… Anyone know where to buy white ink??!

Even worse, once I discovered the error in my thought process, I was still determined to have what I wanted. I got on Google (who doesn't love Google?!) and searched for printers who would do just what I wanted. Let me tell you something: they are hard to find. Really hard to find. Finally, I found one. But at $100 for a print of 50 envelopes, Justin was convinced we could DIY it for cheaper. #mistakeone

So 2 of those 3 hours we had spent at Sam Flax were not spent coming up with the design of the invitations themselves, but instead were actually spent discovering the world of screenprinting.

We bought one screen, a tub of black ink and a tub of white ink, transparencies, photo emulsion, photo emulsion remover, paintbrushes … and watercolor, envelopes, watercolor paper, etc… Typical invitation making supplies, right? ;)

Having taken one screenprinting class in college, Justin was relying on me to remember how to do it. Except I didn't. Not at all! As I reminded him in the store, my class was about printmaking and bookmaking. We only spent a tiny amount of time actually printmaking. In fact, I can tell you how to sew an art book easily! And adding covers? Making it look good? In fact, I recently did the whole process with the little girl I watch. But printmaking? No way! As I told Justin in the store, and then again at home, I simply didn't remember much about the process. We'd have to figure it out again from scratch.


On night one, we screwed up. Then, we didn't get the photo emulsion off the screen in time and it set, so we rubbed a hole in the screen while cleaning it and had to buy a new one. We were constantly making stupid mistakes like this. To add insult to injury, we had 2 weekends in which to get it right before the invites needed to go out. Talk about stress!

Finally, we got the process down –

1. Cover the screen in photo emulsion. Set aside on a flat surface in a dark room to dry for an hour or more.
2. Print your black and white image or words onto a transparency. Wherever there is black is where the ink will come through on your screen.
3. In a dark room, set your transparency upside down on your silkscreen so that you aren't printing backwards. Turn on a bright light and let the image expose for an unspecified amount of time. (It could be as short as a couple of minutes or as long as an hour depending on how much light you have, how intricate the design is, and how close the light is to the screen.)
4. After you finish exposing, rinse the screen with water. The entire screen should have a green coating except where you exposed and are now rinsing. Let dry for a few minutes.
5. Place a sheet of paper below your screen where you want to print. Use a squeegee to spread a thin layer of ink over your image.
6. Lift the screen and voila! Done!

9. Rinse the ink off to begin the cleanup process.
10. Cover the screen in photo emulsion remover. Over and over again. Both the back and front of the screen.
11. Rinse the screen again.
12. Pray it all came out.

For 4 or 5 days straight, we practiced the correct method to this madness. As it turns out, printing text can be quite laborious and intense. Justin might say that a glass of wine or some whiskey is a very important step in the process of printmaking.


After getting frustrated that first day and feeling a bit of time crunch, we ended up using a regular printer to print the actual invitations. Then, by the end of week one, we had successfully printed 25 envelopes with addresses … and shortly thereafter some mini cards whose wording got altered throughout the process and are pretty difficult to read… In the end I'm not sure if I should have included them, but whatever…

Then, as you see, we tied everything together with yarn, put an adorable elephant stamp on the front, stuffed with mint green, blue, and white heart homemade confetti, and sealed with a cute mint green elephant wax seal on the back. Adorable and cute if I do say so myself. :)


• Printmaking is expensive if you don't know what you are doing. We spent approximately $400 learning. Some of the supplies can be used again, but many cannot. I think, in the future, we should go with what we know (unless we have extra cash sitting around…).
• You cannot use a printer to print white ink on black or grey envelopes. (oops!)
• Medium sized stamps are huge on Zazzle! Go with small! And double check your order!
• Start planning out your invitations 2 months before you need them if you have intricate and detailed design ideas like me! Eek!

So, have you ever made invitations as intense and design rich as these? Would you ever consider doing so? And most importantly, what do you think about the elephants? Cute, right? 

I guess next up we get to start planning the actual shower… *groans* ;)

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