Screen printing

Silk screen printing has its origins in Japanese stenciling. It has since been used by artists and designers like William Morris, Andy Warhol, Rauschenberg and Hamilton. It was introduced in India as a cheaper alternative to block printing..

  • The silk screen is a wooden or aluminum frame with a fine nylon or silk mesh stretched over it. The mesh is coated with a light sensitive emulsion or film, which - when dry - will block the holes in the mesh. The image that needs to be printed is output to film either by camera or image-setter. This film positive and the mesh on the screen are sandwiched together and exposed to ultraviolet light in a device called a print-down frame. The screen is then washed with a jet of water which washes away all the light sensitive emulsion that has not been hardened by the ultraviolet light. This leaves you with an open stencil which corresponds exactly to the image that was supplied on the film. Next the fabric to be printed is pinned on a wooden table so that it is evenly stretched and there are no ripples.

  • A rubber blade with a wooden handle is firmly pulled across the top of the screen; it pushes the ink through the mesh onto the surface of the fabric which is being printed. Another person stands at the other side of the table. He takes hold of the rubber blade and repeats the process.
  • Alternatively ,>a wax table is used. The surface of the table is covered with wax. Below there are a network of pipes through which steam is passed. This causes the wax to soften and the fabric is just firmly pressed on to the table. The wooden frame of the screen is fitted with metal handles which will fit onto to corresponding wooden protrusions on the table. This is to aid placement, when two or more colors are being used. The dye is poured on the screen (usually pigment dye mixed thickly).