Screen printing is a traditional printing method where ink is pushed through a fine mesh onto the substrate. Originating in China in the Song Dynasty, it utilised the same silk meshes which are sometimes used today. The technique travelled to Europe in the 18th Century and was used for printing on fabric; however the prohibitive cost of the silk used for the meshes meant that it did not replace woodblock printing as the predominant technique until the early twentieth century. Around this time, printers developed the current method of using photo-reactive materials in the screen emulsion to create the ‘stencil’ which the inks are pushed through. Artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Liechtenstein and Sister Corita Kent popularised the technique into a process which has entered the popular consciousness and captures the imagination of many designers and artists.
The process is a relatively simple one; artwork is printed onto a transparent film, which is then used to mask or expose the emulsion spread across a screen mesh to light; the image left id a negative of the design. Ink is then pushed through this negative image using a squeegee, and the resulting print is characteristically smooth and opaque.
At The Art of Wallpaper, we have built a custom 34 metre print table, on which we can print fabric and wallpaper. The table was constructed in 2014, and is built to carry a finely engineered carriage, to ensure registration and coverage are perfect and even throughout. The carriage has been designed and refined over time by our printer Robert, and runs on rails up and down the table, snapping into registration using a system of compressed air.
Our screen printing process represents the finest quality we can achieve, and the lowest minimums possible. We use inks and mediums which we have specially developed, and each design is painstakingly colour-matched. Because of the flexibility of our set up, we can handle much larger repeats than we can normally through machine printing, and we have used many years of experience to refine special techniques such as metallics and varnishes.