about the artist

Making Thermofax Screens

I think it was Kristin who asked me to show how I make thermofax screens. Today,(since I am still waiting for supplies) I made a couple of thermofax screens for Debra. She is making some t-shirts about blogging. To warm up, I made a screen for myself. One of the screens that Jane Dunnewold had for us to use was a wonderful little screen with a filigrees design. She said it was copyright free clip art. So I played with some clip art, enlarging and isolating elements, putting them together, then reducing to get a fun screen.

First of all – this is my good old thermofax. I bought it on e-bay a few years ago. I have had to replace the belt which is a wide circle of heavy duty vinyl or plastic.

Here is the roll of thermofax film. One side is smooth and the other size is rough – it is the mesh. When the screen is passed through the thermofax, the smooth side is melted away where it is next to the photocopy.


Here is the image that I created with a sheet of film in a carrier. The image must be made with a carbon based material. The new digital copy machines do not work. Some pencils and India Ink will work and I discovered today that pigment based inks in Epson Printers work.


Here is the final image burned into the film:


The screen is then attached to a frame. I use cardboard frames for transparencies, purchased from office supply stores. I then seal the edges with duct tape.


Here are my simple supplies for screenprinting: a padded surface, fabric, textile paint, a credit card, a spoon and the screen. I place some paint on the screen above the image and pull it across the image with the credit card. The screen can then be washed and reused many times.


Here is the final print on the fabric:


And there you have it!

Yesterday,I went shopping with Steph and Mia. Mia is going to be a flower girl in her Aunt Katie’s wedding in NC in July. We found a beautiful dress at Nordstrom. It is a simple tea length white dress with an organza overlay. We are going to get a sample of the bridesmaid’s dresses and make a sash to match them. We looked for shoes, but didn’t find the right thing. Mia has the Congdon female shopping gene, I am happy to say. She had a wonderful time.

My step pedometer arrived today and since 11 this morning, I have walked 7327 steps. Debra tells me that it takes 5 miles of walking to reach 10,000 steps. This is going to be a real challenge. Of course, I spent a lot of time at my computer today uploading the quarterly regional reports to the Surface Design website.

11 Responses to “Making Thermofax Screens”

  1. Donna says:

    Question. If one lives near a tatoo parlor, would one take their own screen and perhaps they’d run it thru? Do they use the same screen type for tatoos, or is it something else?

  2. Gerrie, waaaay cool! Thanks for posting the pictures, I’ve GOTTA try that with images from my Epson printer!

  3. Elle says:

    Thanks for the process photos! I always wondered how one worked!

  4. I love my thermofax machine. I got it many years ago from a school that had no more use for it and was storing it on a back shelf. When you clean your screens, do not use hot water. Don’t ask how I know this.

  5. Shelina says:

    Makes me wish I had a thermofax machine. Thanks for the training session.

  6. Karoda says:

    I would love to have some screens made. How much do you charge and other details please?

  7. PaMdora says:

    My friend Emmie has a thermofax and she brought it for a workshop and we made screens. I keep thinking I should get one, then I think I could just let her make them for me. but really I never do…I guess I should just get on ebay and find one. How much did you have to pay, if you don’t mind me asking?

  8. Pat says:

    Thanks, Gerrie! I took a class from Rayna Gillman where she taught that technique, but we didn’t know that printouts from Epson printers would work. I’m really psyched now! Of course, now I just need a access to a thermofax machine!

    Love that design, by the way… spirals are great!

  9. Judy says:

    What a great lesson! Thanks Gerrie…so now we’ll all be going to the bay to find thermofax machines!!!
    My pedometer is on the way! wooHoo!!

  10. Thanks for the tutorial. I too, love to see pictures! A few years ago we bought a lazer printer because that’s what prints out the best looking type. Now I wish we had gotten an ink jet because that’s best for printing on fabric.

  11. Debra says:

    Thank you for demostrating this.. I can read about it, but pictures make it so much clearer. And who knew that they kind of copy matters??

    That screen you made is quite cool. I will watch for it in future work.

    Just looked at my pedometer when the 11 pm news started. I still needed almost 1000 steps. So guess who walked in place through the entire news broadcast, so I could just now record 10,111 steps!!