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Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

MakerSpace: Using a Silhouette Cameo to Do Screenprinting

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This summer as part of our Summer of Shirts, we did a very low-tech version of screen printing, which turned out to be incredibly popular. So I was excited to learn that the Silhouette Cameo can be used to do a more traditional type of screenprinting. It works really well and I HIGHLY recommend it. After being pretty decent with my Silhouette Cameo, it only took me about an hour to make my stencil and screenprint my t-shirt. And since many of the supplies can be re-used for multiple projects, the cost per project is basically under $20.00, though your initial investment will be slightly higher (assuming that you already have the Silhouette Cameo of course).

Thing 2 wearing her screenprinted T-shirt

Thing 2 wearing her screenprinted T-shirt

Supplies:

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  • Silhouette Cameo and PC/Laptop
  • Weeding tool
  • Piece of 651 Permanent Vinyl
  • Scissors
  • Clear contact paper (to be used as transfer tape)
  • A wedge to be used with the transfer tape
  • A 14 inch embroidery hoop
  • Painters tape
  • A sheer fabric curtain (I purchased a white one for less than $5.00 at a local store)
  • Speedball screenprinting ink
  • A foam brush or squeegee (or credit card)
  • Gloves
  • Something to protect your work surface
  • A piece of cardboard to insert between the two layers of your shirt

Step 1: Making Your Design and Turning it Into a Stencil

Tools used in this step: Laptop, Silhouette Cameo, Vinyl 651 (permanent), weeding tool

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You begin by making your design in the Silhouette design studio. You’ll want to think about simple designs to begin with. You then send your design to the cutter unmirrored with your vinyl 651. You want to design and cut your vinyl as you would a normal vinyl project. HOWEVER, when you weed your project you want to remove the design part while keeping the edges in place to create your stencil. For example, I removed all of the guitar pieces and letters and kept the part I would normally remove attached to my vinyl backing. You final screen will look like this.

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Step 2: Turning Your Vinyl into a Printing Screen

Tools used in this step: Vinyl stencil (created in step 1), transfer tape (contact paper), wedge (used for transfer tape), painters tape, embroidery hoop, a piece of sheer curtain slightly larger than your embroidery hoop

You now have a negative image piece of vinyl that has been weeded, so you’re going to use your transfer tape (contact paper) to lift your stencil off of the vinyl backing and attach it to the screen (which is a piece of sheer fabric curtain). If you don’t know how to use transfer tape, there are instructions here: How to Use Transfer Tape for Cricut and Silhouette Projects.

After you place your vinyl stencil onto the screen and remove the transfer tape, you can cut your stencil/screen to the size of your embroidery hoop. The hoop is used to hold your stencil/screen tight for the application phase. You want to leave about 2 inches around the outside of the hoop so that you can keep it pulled tight. Use painter’s tape around the edges to help make sure you don’t go over the edge of your vinyl stencil.

The hoop plus your sheer curtain with the vinyl stencil attached is now your screen for the purposes of discussion.

A "Screen" for Screenprinting

A “Screen” for Screenprinting

Step 3: Doing the Screen Printing

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Tools used in this step: Your screen (which is the embroidery hoop with the sheer curtain piece and your vinyl stencil attached to it), Speedball ink, squeegee, gloves (if you want to keep your hands clean), surface protection, cardboard for in between layers of your t-shirt

Insert a piece of cardboard between the layers of your t-shirt to prevent bleeding through. Place the screen onto your shirt where you want it to appear. You will then put a little bit of Speedball ink onto your stencil and spread it evenly over the stencil using your squeegee. Fill in all the parts and then scrape it clean so that you have a thin layer of ink over the areas where it is supposed to print. Let it dry for a few minutes and then remove your screen.

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Your shirt is now done, but you need to let it dry for about 24 hours.

Advantages to Screenprinting vs. Vinyl Heat Transfer

Once you have created a screen, you can take it out of the embroidery hoop for storage and re-use it. From one sheet curtain panel you can create anywhere from 6 to 8 screens which you can store. This gives you a variety of ready made screens that you can pop in and out of your embroidery hoop to teach teens the basics of screen printing. Would also be great for creating summer reading shirts.

Because you are creating a screen that can be re-used, it costs less than using heat transfer vinyl on a large number of t-shirts. Heat transfer vinyl is more expensive than standard vinyl and here you are using one piece as opposed to multiple pieces for multiple shirts.

Many of the supplies and tools can be re-used, which makes this a less expensive project over time.

The t-shirts feel more like authentic t-shirts as opposed to t-shirts that have the stiff feel of vinyl on them.

What the Teens Learn:

  • Design
  • Some basic tech
  • Screenprinting

Here is a really quick tutorial that you can watch on YouTube that demonstrates how quick and easy screenprinting with a Silhouette Cameo is:

TPiB: Easy Peasy DIY Jack-O-Lanterns

So I got a Silhouette Cameo and I was trying to figure out how to use it, and how to use it with teens, when I stumbled across an easy and fun craft idea. You can do it with or without a Silhouette Cameo, it’s easily adaptable. I made my examples using the Silhouette Cameo.

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What You’ll Need:

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  • Clear plastic craft bulb/ornaments
  • Orange acrylic paint
  • Styrofoam or plastic cups
  • Black markers/stickers/or vinyl if using a Silhouette Cameo
  • OR black paper and a sticker making machine
  • Hemp cord or twine for hanging

Step 1: Painting Your Ornament Orange

You are going to be painting the inside of your ornament, not the outside. Start by saying that before anyone gets all excited and starts painting the outside, not that this has happened to me. Nope, not once.

Take the top off of your ornament and fill it with a few drops of orange paint. You’ll want to roll the ornament around a bit to make sure you completely cover the inside with paint. Place your ornament opening down into a cup to let the excess paint drip out and let it dry. It will dry quicker if you don’t use too much paint, so use paint sparingly.

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Step 2: Making Your Face

While your ornament is drying, think about what you want you Jack-O-Lantern face to look like. You then need to make your elements, which you can do in several ways.

Paper: Cut out your face elements using a template you download or hand draw. You can use glue or a sticker making machine to turn your paper into stickers and place them onto your dried ornament.

Sihouette Cameo: Download a design or make your own design, cut using Oracal 651 permanent vinyl, and place on your dried ornament.

Getting Creative:

This doesn’t just have to be Jack-O-Lanterns. You can do ghosts, monsters, robots and more. And it doesn’t have to just be Halloween, you can do a variety of animals, for example. You can also do school colors and logos, sports teams, interests and more. Or, better yet, have teens make an ornament that represents their favorite books and see what they come up with. See also, our annual Great Ornament Hack.

MakerSpace: Summer of Shirts Index and Gallery

Here are all the modify your t-shirt posts in one place with a gallery of some of our finished products. Click on the link for the instructions.

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TPIB: Meme ALL the Shirts! (Heather Booth)

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Mod-A-Tee @ Your Library – Fun with T-Shirts: Sharpie Tie-Dye, Puffy Paint, Spray Painting

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Sharpie lettering and spray painting

MakerSpace: Mod-A-Tee Making Hot Glue Stencils and Spraypainting T-Shirts

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Putting on your first coats of paint

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Low Tech, Low Cost “Screenprinting”

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MakerSpace: 5 Ways We Transformed T-Shirts into Something New

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So the Summer of Shirts is over. Last Monday was our last day and we took all the ways we transformed shirts in the previous weeks – Sharpie tie-dye, Low Tech Screen Printing, Transfers, and more (links at end of post) – and taught our teens ways that they could then transform those shirts into something new and different. Here are the five ways that we transformed our t-shirts.

Transformation 1: Infinity Scarf

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To make an infinity scarf, you simply cut your shirt into large circular strips. This scarf is Sharpie tie-dyed and modeled by Thing 2. Instructions: No Sew T-shirt Infinity Scarf Tutorial: 5 Steps

Transformation 2: Headbandtransform4

This is part of a t-shirt cut off and just sewn together to make a headband. It is also Sharpie tie-dyed. Instructions: 3 DIY headbands you can make from old T-shirts – SheKnows

Transformation 3: Tote Bagtransform2

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There are several ways you can make a T-shirt tote bag. They all begin with cutting out the neck and cutting of the sleeves. An easy sew method just has you sewing the bottom of the bag shut. No sew directions: How to Make a Tote Bag From a T-shirt (no sew tote bag). Sew tote bag instructions:  FASTEST RECYCLED T-SHIRT TOTE BAG: 6 Steps (with Pictures)

Transformation 4: Baby Bibtransform3

When you cut the next portion of a t-shirt out to make a bag, depending on how deep you cut your neck, it makes an awesome bib. The trick is to make sure and include the neck band in whatever amount of shirt you cut out. Instructions: https://folkhaven.wordpress.com/2012/05/27/easiest-no-sew-bibs/

Transformation 5: Jewelrytransform6

There are a wide variety of ways that you can turn t-shirts into jewelry. Here we tied pony beads onto strips of t-shirt and braided them together. A great starting place can be found here: 15 Easy Ways to Turn T-Shirts into Jewelry | Brit + Co

The benefit to using t-shirts is that they are actually a pretty cheap starting point. A plain white t-shirt is $2.00 to $3.00 at most major craft stores. And you can also find a wide variety of old, used t-shirts at thrift shops for a t-shirt modification program. In fact, I put up a box in our staff lounge and asked for donations and got a lot because everyone has old t-shirts they are looking for a way to get rid of.

The teens enjoyed the ideas because they are into self-expression and creativity and this was fun, easy, and well within their price range.

MakerSpace: Teaching Teens to Use Canva to Design their Own T-shirts (Laser T-shirt Transfers)

MakerSpace: DIY Fidget Spinners Three MORE Ways

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Earlier I shared with you 3 ways we are making fidget spinners in the Teen MakerSpace at the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH). Today I am going to share with you 3 additional ways we have had fun creating our own fidget spinners. All three of these ways involve using a ball bearing. We bought a bulk order of ball bearings off of Amazon for a reasonable price. The ball bearing spinners definitely work better than the non-ball bearing spinners that we created.

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DIY Polymer Clay Spinner

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Polymer clay has turned out to be a pretty popular item in our Teen MakerSpace, so the teens wanted to explore if they could successfully made a fidget spinner out of clay – and they did. To make the spinner they simply built up the clay around the ball bearing and shaped it into a shape and size that they liked. Our teens made both two and three sided spinners. We baked the clay as directed with the ball bearings already in place.

DIY 3D Pen Spinner

3D Pen Fidget Spinner #1

3D Pen Fidget Spinner #1

I have mentioned many times how our 3D pens are pretty popular, so of course we decided to see if we could make a spinner with one. I actually really liked this spinner the best out of all six that we have made. We used a ball bearing for the center and pennies for the outside spokes to save on the number of bearings we used in subsequent spinners. To make our spinner we built up the 4 individual elements first, making solid circles around the ball bearing and the three pennies. We then connected the four pieces.

3D Pen Fidget Spinner #2

3D Pen Fidget Spinner #2

Light Up LED Spinner Hack

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One of our regular teens had the idea to hack a fidget spinner to make it light up using LED lights and button cell batteries. He placed the batteries where the outside bearings usually go, putting them in place using hot glue. He then put an LED light on the end of each and used electrical tape to hold them in place. You can see a short video of our spinner in action here.

The best part about making fidget spinners in so many different ways has been watching the teens explore, create and problem solve. There has been a lot of comparing and contrasting, creative thinking, and working together to try and figure out some of the best ways to try and make new and different types of spinners.

MakerSpace: Mod-A-Tee Making Hot Glue Stencils and Spray Painting T-shirts

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This summer is the “Summer of Shirts” in the Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH). Every Monday we are teaching our teens a different way that we can make or modify t-shirts. So far we have done Sharpie Tie-Dye, puffy paint, and low-tech screen printing. Last Monday we taught our teens how to create t-shirts using hot glue guns and spray paint and it turned out quite spectacularly, if I’m being honest.

The basic premise: You will make a negative stencil using a hot glue gun and then spray paint over it so that when it is removed you will have a fantastic (and original!) t-shirt design.

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Supplies Needed:

  • T-shirts or tote bags (plain)
  • Hot glue gun with plenty of glue sticks
  • Parchment paper
  • Fabric spray paint (you can buy fabric spray paint or make your own using these instructions: Make Your Own Fabric Spray Paint | My Crazy Blessed Life!)
  • A piece of cardboard to put in between the two layers of your t-shirt
  • Something to keep your work space safe, like a plastic table cloth
Tulip Fabric Spray Paint

Tulip Fabric Spray Paint

Not Needed but Helpful

  • A computer with a printer
  • Sharpies and other embellishments

Making Your Shirts

Step 1: Creating Your Hot Glue Stencil Pieces

First you want to create a design on a piece of paper to be the template for your stencil. You can freehand this if you have the skill, or simply print something off on a piece of paper using your computer. Simple text and graphics work best. For example, silhouettes and big block letters are ideal.

After you have your design on paper, lay a piece of parchment paper over top of it. You will then trace it using the hot glue gun to create your hot glue pieces. Allow them to dry fully before you peel them off the parchment paper. Patience will be an important part of this process throughout as there is a lot of no really, let things fully dry before going on to the next step.

Making the hot glue stencil pieces

Making the hot glue stencil pieces

Step 2: Setting Up for Painting

You will then want to start setting up your shirt for painting. Be sure and put your piece of cardboard in between the two layers of your shirt and to cover your work space with your plastic table cloth to help with any over spray. You’ll also want to spray outside (on grass is recommended) or in a well ventilated space like a garage with an open door.

Getting ready to paint

Getting ready to paint

Gently peel your hot glue pieces off of the parchment paper and position them onto your shirt. When you spray paint the shirt, the hot glue pieces will prevent the paint from getting on the space it is covering.

Hot glue stencil pieces in place

Hot glue stencil pieces in place

Step 3: Painting

You will want to carefully spray paint your t-shirt. If you let colors dry in between coats you can overlay colors and create amazing effects. The trick is to apply gentle pressure, light coats, and to be patient.

Putting on your first coats of paint

Putting on your first coats of paint

After you finish painting your t-shirt, it will look something like this:

A t-shirt with the hot glue stencils in place

A painted t-shirt with the hot glue stencils in place

Above is a cat themed t-shirt made by one of our teens. You can see the places that are covered by the hot glue stencil pieces. She made a template using a silhouette image, printed it, made her hot glue stencil pieces and painted in multiple layers. You then want to make sure and let your paint FULLY DRY. If you try and remove your hot glue stencil pieces you may smudge the surrounding paint. Again, patience is called for. It’s a theme.

The completed cat t-shirt

The completed cat t-shirt

Step 4: Finishing Touches

After your t-shirt is fully dry, you can add embellishments if you like. We found that t-shirts made with text on them kind of popped better if you outlined the text using a Sharpie marker, for example. Or you could use puffy paint to add some dimensionality.

A finished t-shirt

A finished t-shirt

Our Gallery

Stencils can be re-used. The stencil used to make the t-shirt above was also used to make the tote bag below.

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I’m a Maker tote bag

One of our teens cut the neckline out of a t-shirt to make a different type of design and we painted the neck cut-out to make it into a bib for one of the TMS Assistant’s baby. I love this bib so much.

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Final Thoughts

All in all we had about 20 teens participated and they really enjoyed the activity and made some great t-shirts. To do a complete t-shirt from beginning to end took as little as an hour. The fabric spray paint was moderately expensive and didn’t go as far as we thought it would. In fact, we ran out half way through our night and I ran to the store to get more. We did this as a drop-in activity over a six hour period and this really worked well as we could provide more one-on-one instructions.

MakerSpace: DIY Fidget Spinners in Three Ways

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This past week we spent some time setting up a DIY Fidget Spinner station at the Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH). There are no shortage of DIY Fidget Spinner tutorials out there and we tried several and landed on the following three for our DIY Fidget Spinner station.

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Cardboard Fidget Spinners (No Bearings)

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The basic premise for our fidget spinner was found at the Red Ted Art blog and corresponded nicely with our new MakeDo Cardboard Creations station. You can find the basic tutorial here: http://www.redtedart.com/make-fidget-spinner-diy/. The no bearing center uses a toothpick, hot glue and cardboard as the spinning mechanism which we used for both our cardboard and origami fidget spinners.

To see a short video of our cardboard fidget spinner, click here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BVSxb6CnWHP/?taken-by=makerspaceplmvkc

It was pretty easy to do and works fairly well. I thought I would be creative and add bottle caps from our bottle cap crafts station to enhance my fidget spinner and I do not recommend this as it makes the fidget a little to big to fit nicely between your fingers and hand. On a second attempt we used scrapbook paper and the epoxy circle stickers from the bottle cap crafts and this worked much better. You can also just use pennies.
fidget5Supplies Needed:
  • Cardboard
  • Box cutter
  • Toothpicks
  • Hot glue
  • Pennies
  • Embellishments (if desired)

Very low cost, quick and easy, effective

Origami Fidget Spinner (No Bearings)

Using the same premise as above, we also made an origami fidget spinner. You can find a variety of origami ninja star tutorials online and turn your origami ninja star into a fidget spinner. We used a toothpick and beads to make our own bearing to create the spinning mechanism.

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To see a short video of our origami fidget spinner, click here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BVSxMkWHJ4Q/?taken-by=makerspaceplmvkc

Supplies Needed:

  • Origami paper
  • Toothpicks
  • Hot glue
  • Embellishments (if desired)

Very low cost, quick and easy, effective

3D Pen Fidget Spinner (with Bearings)

We also bought some bearings off of Amazon and used them in combination with our 3D pens to make fidget spinners. Our first attempt looked like a traditional fidget spinner and used 4 ball bearings. It spins really well and we are very happy with the outcome.

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With our second attempt we wanted to see if we could make our ball bearings go farther so we used one for the center to make our spinning mechanism and replaced the exterior ball bearings with pennies. By doing this, we can make more fidget spinners with the bearings we have on hand. This worked basically the same.

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To create our 3d pen fidget spinner we made circles around all four of our objects first and then we joined them together.

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Supplies Needed:

  • 3D pen and filament
  • Ball bearing
  • Pennies

Higher cost because you need a 3D pen, filament, and the bearings, a little more challenging and time consuming, effective

In setting up a station with various types of fidget spinners for teens to try they get to really engage in comparing and contrasting and problem solving. We’ve already made a variety of various fidget spinners and find it to be a lot of fun. I highly recommend this activity.

MakerSpace: Making a Photo Booth Prop Holder

Yesterday I completely re-arranged and marketed our Teen MakerSpace. As a librarian, this is indeed my idea of a good time. But one thing that has always bothered me is the way we display our Photo Booth Props. As you may know (if you don’t, hi new readers!), we have a lot of photo booth props. We like to make thematic units as new tie-ins come about. But we’ve never had a good way to display them. In fact, they were laying flat on a shelf like this before yesterday – check out the upper left hand corner:

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Awkward, unattractive, hard to get to and easy to make a mess. In other words, not good at all. So yesterday Teen MakerSpace Assistant Morgan and I had a conversation that went like this:

Morgan: I wish we had a bucket or something to display them in.

Karen: We do, but they still get all wobbly and fall over and stuff.

Morgan: What about using that trashcan over there.

Karen: Oh, gross.

**pause**

Karen: We’re a MakerSpace, let’s make one!

So I went into the office and looked around and we have a stack of empty shoe boxes that we can maybe do something with. And it hit me – WE CAN MAKE A PHOTO BOOTH PROP HOLDER. And we did.

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Here’s what we did:

1. We filled our shoe box with rocks to make it heavy so that it would stand up straight. The rocks were placed in a plastic ziploc bag and duct taped to the bottom of the box. The weight is 100% necessary for balance.

2. We covered our box in duct tape to make it attractive.

3. We used a screw driver to poke holes in the top to place each individual prop stick in. This keeps them all nice and neat. No more flopping over! There was much rejoicing.

Now it sits, sturdily I might add, next to our photo booth. See, we used our making skills to solve a problem and make items more accessible. I’m going to call that a win.

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To learn more about our photo booth or photo booth props, check out these posts:

Making Photo Booth Props

Building Our Portable Photo Booth

TPIB: Turn your Instagram pics into Photobooth bookmarks