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Introduction

 

 

 

 

 

Focus on Print is conveniently located minutes from the Brisbane CBD on Brisbane's Southside.

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Our staff have a combined experience in screenprinting of well over 30 years. Our current client list includes many of Brisbane's leading advertising agencies and a healthy and loyal direct customer base.

Screen-printing

Screen-printing, also known as Silkscreening or Serigraphy, is a printmaking technique that traditionally creates a sharp edged single or multi-colour image using a stencil and a porous fabric. A screenprint or serigraph is an image created using this technique.

 History

Silk screen printing has its origins in simple stencilling, most notably of the Japanese form (katazome). The modern silk screen process originated from patents taken out by Samuel Simon in the early 1900s in England. This idea was then adopted in San Francisco, California, by John Pilsworth in 1914 who used a silk screen to form multicolour prints in much the same manner as silk screening is done today.

Silk screening took off during the First World War as an industrial process for printing flags and banners. The use of photographic stencils at this time further increased the processes versatility and encouraged wide-spread use.

 Printing technique

A screen is made of a piece of porous, finely woven fabric (originally silk, but typically made of polyester or nylon since the 1940s) stretched over a wood or aluminium frame. Areas of the screen are blocked off with a non-permeable material—a stencil—which is a negative of the image to be printed; that is, the open spaces are where the ink will appear.

The screen is placed on top of a piece of dry paper or fabric. Ink is placed on top of the screen, and a squeegee (rubber blade) is used to spread the ink evenly across the screen. The ink passes through the open spaces in the screen onto the paper or fabric below; then the screen is lifted away. The screen can be re-used after cleaning. If more than one colour is being printed on the same surface, the ink is allowed to dry and then the process is repeated with another screen and different colour of ink.

 Stenciling techniques

There are several ways to create a stencil for screenprinting. The simplest is to create it by hand in the desired shape, either by cutting a piece of paper (or plastic film) and attaching it to the screen, or by painting a negative image directly on the screen with a filler material which becomes impermeable when it dries. For a more painterly technique, the artist may choose to paint the image with drawing fluid, wait for the image to dry, and then "scoop coat" the entire screen with screen filler. After the filler has dried, a hose can be used to spray out the screen, and only the areas that were painted by the drawing fluid will wash away, leaving a stencil around it. This process enables the artist to incorporate their hand into the process, to stay true to their drawing style and still produce multiples.

The most popular and flexible technique is to transfer a pre-drawn or printed image onto a screen using a type of photographic emulsion:

The original image is placed on a transparent overlay. The image may be drawn or painted directly on the overlay, photocopied, or printed with a laser printer, as long as the areas to be inked are opaque. A black-and-white negative may also be used (projected on to the screen) However, unlike traditional platemaking, these screens are normally exposed by using film positives.

The overlay (or film positive) is placed over the emulsion-coated screen, and then exposed with a strong UV light. The areas that are not opaque in the overlay allow light to reach the emulsion, which hardens and sticks to the screen.

The screen is washed off thoroughly. The areas of emulsion that were not exposed to light - corresponding to the image on the overlay - dissolve and wash away, leaving a negative stencil of the image attached to the screen.

 Versatility

Screen printing is more versatile than traditional printing techniques. The surface does not have to be printed under pressure, unlike etching or lithography, and it does not have to be planar. Screen printing inks can be used to work with a variety of materials, such as textiles, ceramics, metal, wood, paper, glass, and plastic. As a result, screen printing is used in many different industries, from clothing to product labels to circuit board printing.