Category Archives: Tutorials and Tips

Skills, tricks, tips and tools of the trade.

Tent Zipper Repair

I love tents. I love looking at them in the Canadian Tire sales flyer. I even love pitching them in the dark for outdoor festivals… but busted zippers are as common as black flies and often turn a great tent into a frustrating mosquito trap.

As much as I’m totally for reusing stuff till it disintegrates completely, if someone even suggests I replace a tent zipper again I’m gonna kick their ass.

Seems like it should be pretty simple right? I’ve done a lot of zippers, but this one changed my life forever… I will never look at a tent the same again.

My neighbour brought me her dad’s small tent that needed the entry zipper replaced. It had duct tape holding half of it together, the rest of the zipper was badly damaged. No problem, or so I thought…

I went to one of the local fabric and trim shops for “zipper by the yard”. Unfortunately he didn’t have the same type of zipper so I could reuse the sliders, but they could have been the source of the damage in the first place. So he hooked me up with a double sided slider from a jacket zipper, cut that zipper to get the slider off (which itself is worth a couple dollars),  spent 15 min or so putting on the new slider and a stopper – all for only $5! Sweet! I tried to give him $10 (considering the time he spent helping me and the other zipper) but he refused. I thought “wow, what a super guy and he must really want my business” but, he must have known how difficult this was going to be.

So off I go… spent an hour ripping the old one out, removing duct tape, and trying to remove some of duct tape sticky shit left behind, good times. Then I make new casings for the ends, wicked. I attach one side of the zipper, happy to find out it is exactly the right length. Everything looks good. Start with the other side and get about 3/4 of the way and realize something is not right. This side is shorter than the other by about 5 inches. wtf? riiiiight… it’s a CURVED seam. Means one side is longer than the other. Awesome.

So I rip out the longer side, read on the internet about fixing tent zippers (should have done that first right? shut-up) and sure enough, you have to “ease” the longer side in. Let me tell you, there’s absolutely nothing “ease”y about easing nylon. Second try, bunch of little mini pleats and looks like hell. Third try, still some pleats, looks a little better but now it’s too short. Fourth try, whooooo I think I got it. Still has little pleats in it, but fuck it. I’m not ripping it out again.

$40, minus $5 for the zipper… and a lot of stitch ripping.

Alright, so if you need a tent zipper fixed, don’t ask me. Take your broken-ass hippie crap somewhere else! Or screw the environment and anti-consumerism, throw that shit in the garbage, and buy a new one.

Tents are on sale at Canadian Tire.

p.s. if you have to sew something with duct tape goo on it, try rubbing some flour into it. yes I said flour.

Make your own Photo Emulsion

I found a great tutorial on Instructables for “true DIY guide to screen printing” that included instructions on making photo emulsion using a chemical called Potassium Dichromate (which I found at Kama Pigment in Montreal).

WARNING: Potassium Dichromate can kill you ‘n shit.

This is the cheapest photo emulsion you will ever find… and it works for fine detail artwork and on any screen mesh. But only with water based inks.

**this post gets so many visitors! it’s crazy!!**

UPDATED!! 2016

Definitely look at the tutorial on Instructables first, that guy offers lots of important information!! Read the comments there too…

This is my “converted to baking measurements” recipe. If you need help with conversions from oz to ml to cups, I use this conversion site.


1/2 cup of PVA white craft or carpenters glue (water soluble)

1/2 teaspoon of potassium dichromate

3 teaspoons of warm water

White craft or carpenters PVA glue, I buy it at the dollar store or craft store. Any cheap water soluble glue will work. Carpenters glue has a slightly better bond, but it’s a little more expensive. 120ml of glue makes just enough to cover three medium/large size screens.

Potassium Dichromate can be purchased at speciality arts stores that carry supplies for wood staining, leather tanning, custom pigment paints, etc. I found mine at Kama Pigments in Montreal.

First of all, work in a dimly lit room (obviously not totally dark or you can’t see what you are doing, just don’t use an overhead light and not in direct sunlight you should be fine)

Wear gloves… try not to get this stuff on you, it is toxic as hell.

In a small plastic or glass container, put 3 teaspoons of warm water.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of Potassium Dichromate and stir until dissolved. (do not use these measuring utensils or containers for food or anything else afterwards!)

The Potassium Dichromate is sensitive to light only AFTER you add water, but I do keep mine in a airtight container that I covered with duct tape, just to keep it at max potency. The store where I bought it though just has it in clear plastic bags on a shelf. I bought a 1/4 pound bag of it for about 8 dollars over 5 years ago and it still hasn’t lost any strength that I can notice (and I’ve got enough left to last another few years!)

Add 1/2 cup of glue and stir well until consistent and no lumps etc…

Again, do this in a dimly lit room (no overhead light or sunlight)

Spread thin and even on your prepared screen with a squeegee, as you would regular photo emulsion, and allow to dry. The Instructable link has info for preparing screens and squeegees etc, and there is lots of other info out there for that so I won’t repeat it.

Exposure time!

Depends on your bulb, distance, size of the screen, image opaqueness, etc. This is a trial and error process you will have to experiment with your timings to get it right.

In the photo below I think I was using a 100 w bulb, and it’s definitely too close. Since then I’ve got a 250 w bulb suspended at least 2 feet above the screen and expose for about 12-14 minutes.

This is a pretty good article explaining all the different issues with determining your exposure timing.

OMG I made a video tutorial! Enjoy!

Cheerz and happy printing!