How to Screenprint a Rainbow

Posted by Michelle Chandra on

My San Francisco rainbow maze map is one of my most popular handmade San Francisco posters! The San Francisco maze starts at the Golden Gate Bridge and ends at Twin Peaks in the heart of the city. Fun fact: all of my maze maps are designed using the actual street data of the city, and come with an extra maze print you can solve.

rainbow san francisco maze map poster art print tourist gift

Have you ever wanted to know how to screenprint a rainbow? Take a look behind the scenes with the overview below, or see it for yourself with this short 1 minute video on YouTube:

Setting Up the Vacuum Press 

Screenprinting is the process of pushing ink through a mesh encased frame to print a design on paper, cloth, or whatever your heart desires! To get started, I
 first cut paper by hand to either 12 by 12 inch size or 18 by 18 inches for my larger maps! I gather all of the rainbow inks needed, then clamp my burned screenprint frame to my homemade vacuum press to hold the frame and design in place while I print.

screen printing setup

Why a vacuum press? The vacuum suction holds the paper down while I print creating a clean and sharp design. It also eliminates the need to use toxic spray adhesive to hold the paper down. I heart environmentally friendly printing processes! <3

I created my vacuum printing press using materials purchased locally for under $500 following awesome directions provided by Pelican Print Shop

Lining up the Ink

Rainbow ink on screenprint frame

I drop a spoon of ink on the frame along our San Francisco maze design for each color of the rainbow, then use my squeegee to massage the ink back and forth on the frame many times to start the process of the inks mixing with each other.

Test Prints

The first few prints are test prints as I wait for the ink to mix on the frame creating the beautiful gradations in color that make my rainbow prints famous! To speed up the process, I massage the ink on the screen using my squeegee before pulling the ink and printing the design. Each print is unique due to the continuous mixing of inks that occurs on the screen over the course of the print run! 

Final Result

After all of the hard work, I leave the prints to air dry on the wood rack I created from an Ikea baby crib (DIY boss!) 

Pick up one of my rainbow maps here.

About Dirt Alley Design

Michelle Chandra, founder, Dirt Alley DesignDirt Alley Design was founded just off a dirt alley in San Francisco in December of 2016 by artist Michelle Chandra. Inspired by the beauty of street grids, Michelle invented maze maps in which she transforms street grids into mazes. 

My maze art isn't just decorative art for your home, it's a real puzzle maze you can solve (if you dare!) I think my maze maps are pretty cool, but don't take just my word for it! My maze maps have been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Forbes, Print Mag and Vice, to name a few!

artist process

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  • Thank you Paul! <3

    Michelle on
  • Great work! I love the rainbow screen look… and the fact that you do it with environmentally cool methods!

    Paul Gunby on

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