Reflections from MADE Lab’s 2023 Water-Based Camp  |

Screen printers learn their craft in many different ways. The best way to learn how to screen print is by getting your hands dirty. Attending a conference or workshop is a great way to meet industry experts, learn from your peers, and ask as many questions as you can think of. One of these camps just happened at MADE Lab/Printed Threads in Fort Worth, Texas. The water-based camp ran from July 19-22, and printers from all experience levels and all areas of the United States came to check it out and learn from the experts. 

Print guru Colin Huggins taught both the entry-level camp and the advanced camp. Brandon Schmunk, president of, attended the camp as well. Here’s their experience.

people gather around a ROQ automatic press in Waco, Texas


Over the course of four days, printers learned the ins and outs of water-based screen printing. Seminars, Q+A times plus hands-on experience created a great learning environment for all types of learners. Colin Huggins enjoyed the collaborative atmosphere of the camp. 

“After four days, we were talking about some pretty intricate stuff,” Colin said. “Breaks allowed all the printers to come together and ask each other questions, furthering their knowledge and realizing that they all still had a ton of great questions to ask.”


Screen printers learn how to print and pick up tips from all areas of the industry. From talking to experts at trade shows to watching YouTube videos, learning about printing comes in all shapes and sizes. When you’re in an in-person class setting, the ability to ask questions creates more learning opportunities that are individualized. 

“During each segment, attendees had ample opportunity to ask questions until everyone went hoarse,” Colin said.

What better way to learn than to get your hands dirty and your questions answered?

Brandon took a couple of lessons away from the camp. One is the importance of learning in person. 

“Being live and in person has tremendous value. I'm looking forward to many upcoming industry and community events where knowledge and relationships are fostered and invested in,” he said. 


a grayscale print of a man's face on a black shirt sits on a platen of a ROQ automatic press


Water-based ink is becoming more and more popular. With more shops turning to greener methods, printing with water-based ink can be nicer on the environment and your health. 

Before plastisol ink came along, there was only old-school water-based ink for printing on fabric. It dried fast. It was thin and not opaque. Frankly, it was a pain to print with. When plastisol came around, it solved all of those problems. But plastisol ink is essentially liquid plastic, and never quite could achieve that soft hand feel that water-based ink can.

Since the plastisol revolution, newer forms of water-based inks, aka HSA (High Solids Acrylic) ink, have caught up with the user-friendly nature of plastisol inks. These new water-based inks are more opaque but still soft, last longer on the screen, and are printable on a much wider variety of garments than the traditional water-based printing allowed. HSA ink gives the shirt more of a plastisol look, helps hold its boldness longer, and still feels nice and soft.

“Water-based ink is so versatile and can produce top-quality prints,” Brandon said.

Colin echoes Brandon’s sentiments, with an acronym for success that’s easy to remember.

“It all boils down to being Consistent, doing things in ways that are Predictable and are therefore Repeatable. CPR!” Colin said.


a woman holds up a shirt printed with Koi fish

After a week of filling their brains with water-based information, printers headed home from Fort Worth to put their newfound knowledge to the test. Learning in the community helps strengthen relationships between printers; collaboration is more important than competition. 

Want to attend an event like this? Head to the “Where to Find Us” page to see new events coming up, like courses and trade shows.