What is screenprint?

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Screen print, screenprint, screen-print, screen printing, silkscreen, serigraphy, silk-screen, and Siebdruck in the German language. It’s one of these things that’s easier to do than to explain.  And I am happy to show you how screen printing works if you are in Berlin! We have the silks and the workshop. To make a screen print is almost like stencilling, using a silk screen to hold the stencil in place and a squeegee to apply color.

Check out the wikipedia entry on screen print here.

Basic step by step screen print guide

First you take your artwork or illustration, which must be prepared with no shadow or toning. The more contrast the better. This is printed out as a positive image in dark black onto transparent paper or folie.

Then we take our screen, which is a robust frame with silk mesh (or these days polyester) stretched across it. Here we need to apply a light and water sensitive photo emulsion in a thin layer onto the screen, and then leave it to dry in a dark space.

Once the emulsion coat has dried into the screen, we are ready to burn it, to light it using our image positive.

The light will cause the photo emulsion to harden into the screen. The areas with the image will not receive any light, thanks to the black positive keeping them in shadow. These areas will then wash out of the screen, resulting in ’empty’ areas of silk mesh. It’s through these holes in the silk that the screen print color will be pressed onto your printing surface – which can be textile, paper, or anything at all really as long as it holds color and is smooth enough to print onto.

It sounds more complicated that it is. The magic and the chemistry is in the emulsion. The rest is down to creativity and print power.