What Is Screen Printing?

A Brief History.....

Screen Printing found its origins in China around AD 221 as a method of transferring designs onto fabric. 

It then expanded into Japan where screens woven from human hair were used!

The first silk screens (similar to what is used today) were used in France in the 17th Century, although they used stiff brushes to force the ink through the screen. 

It wasn't until the 20th Century that the rubber squeegee was introduced. This is still what is used today!

In the 60's screen printing was used by artists such as Andy Warhol, Peter Blake  and Robert Rauschenberg.

How do I Do It?

The first step is to create the image I want to print. 

I love to use my Wacom to doodle on paper then upload it to the computer to edit

Once in Illustrator I convert it to a digital image, the simpler the better...

 

I then convert the image to a repeating pattern

Then the pattern needs to be split into each colour. For example I want the stems and the flower heads to be different colours so they need to be able to be printed separately.

       

Then the pattern is printed at the required size onto to transparency. The areas of black will wash out of the screen once it has been exposed to UV light (a.k.a the sun). The screen is coated with a UV sensitive emulsion and then exposed to light with the negative on top until the emulsion changes colour! Some pretty cool chemistry!

Then screen is then washed which removes the emulsion which was not exposed to light, leaving you with a stencil to print the beautiful design onto fabric!


Once set up, a squeegee is used to force the waterbased ink through the mesh leaving a printed design on the fabric, awesome!

If I’m printing a design with two colours, once the fabric is dry the process is completed with the second screen and colour!


The dye is then heat set using a special conveyor belt oven to ensure the inks will not come out in the wash. 

The fabric is then ready to sew into beautiful cushion covers!