Screen Printing, Serigraphy or Silk Screen Printing

Screen Printing, Serigraphy or Silk Screen Printing

If you like Block and Mono printing you will love screen printing! Sometimes called Serigraphy or Silk Screen printing.  

Screen printing is a method of printing images or patterns onto fabric, paper or canvas using a wooden or metal screen with an ultra fine mesh fabric stretched over the top. Inks are pushed through the mesh and onto the substrate leaving a pattern or design made by a stencil. 

This was originally an ancient and traditional Chinese method of printing using silk threads to create the finely woven mesh fabric. It has been used for centuries, and within the last 100 years in both the commercial industries; printed fabrics, textiles, clothing, and interior fabrics and in the Fine Art sector; for Posters, Fine Art Canvases, contemporary Textile Artwork. 

Screen printing was a popular technique used by Andy Warhol and other POP artists during the 20th century. Particularly during the 1960s when he created his famous  Marilyn Diptych 1962, Triple Elvis 1963 and Campbell’s Soup Cans 1962.  

Marilyn Diptych

Roy Lichtenstein’s work also played an important role in introducing screen printing as a relevant and significant Fine Art technique during the 1960s. Inspired by comic strips, his large canvases echoed the comic strip’s compositional narratives with bold outlines, vivid palettes and Ben-Day dots. He often combined several printing techniques into his work using screen print, lithograph and wood-cut blocks to reproduce his most popular paintings and express his ideas. Famous works include; Whaam!, Hopeless, Haystacks, and Drowning Girl.

whaam by roy lichtenstein


The basic principles of Screen printing  

Inks are pressed through a fine mesh screen using a squeegee, over stretched fabric or secured paper laid down onto a flat surface. Paper or plastic hand cut stencils are placed on top of the fabric or paper, then the screen is placed on top of the stencil; inks are pushed through the screen; where the substrate is exposed the inks will dye and colour the surface, where the substrate is covered up by the stencil, the original colour of the fabric or paper will remain. 

Multiple stencils can be used to create complex and colourful designs and stencils are still used today. However for large quantities of printing, screens can be coated with a photo-sensitive emulsion and designs developed onto the screen allowing for more complex and detailed design to be printed. Multiple screens can be used to create one image, each individual screen would represent a different colour and/or pattern and printing would be done by layering up the design in a sequential process. 

Screen Printing Equipment

Another method of creating a stencil on the screen would be to use Daler Rowney Blue ‘Screen Printing  Medium - drawing fluid’ which can be hand painted directly onto the inside of the screen’s mesh fabric. First place your design motif under the screen and trace over it with your brush and Drawing fluid. Screen drawing fluid can be used directly from the bottle and has a thick creamy viscosity so it can be partially diluted with water to increase the flow for finer detail if need be. Leave to dry for 24 hours. 

Once dried overnight, use the System 3 Removable Screen Block to flood the screen using a squeegee as you would, to create screen prints. Let this Screen block medium also dry overnight for best results.  

The final step is to wash your screen in a sink or a large plastic tub withcold water to remove the drawing Screen fluid revealing your positive stencil shapes and let air dry. The drawing screen fluid should wash away leaving your design motif ready for printing on your screen and you should be able to use this stencil many times over. When you are ready to clean your screen you can use household soap products to wash your screen blocker away, using hot water will allow ease of removal. 

Always wash your screen as soon as you have finished printing to ensure you don’t permanently block your screen with the acrylic inks. 

To make hand cut stencils

What you will need;

When hand cutting your own stencils for printing it is very time consuming, here are a few tips to help make this process easier;  make sure your blade is sharp, and work on a cutting mat on a stable flat surface, this will ensure you don’t tear your paper or acetate whilst cutting or your fingers. Always use a metal ruler for straight edges.

Stencils can be made out of newspaper print, but this will only allow one print! Or slightly thicker paper can be used but not a thick card as the inks will seep under the card stock and blur your design motif. 

You can make multiple stencils for various colour combinations or use multiple stencils to provide a value scale for just one colour! Whatever you choose to make your stencil with, make sure you have enough spare for re-cutting, it is very easy to over-cut and lose the image or design.

Acetate makes a good stencil material as it is strong and will endure many prints, and it is washable.

Yupo paper is a new bright white unique synthetic paper which provides a versatile smooth surface for creating projects with watercolour, inks and more. It is also a great stencil making material which will last for multiple prints. Use a sharp craft knife for  cutting your designs.

Yupo Paper
  • It’s WATERPROOF, and stands up to the rigours of the elements and demanding environments.
  • Ultra-smooth and bright white, it’s a paper alternative that stands out.
  • Versatility – from packaging and labels to commercial design and marketing, YUPO has grades for many applications.
  • 100% tree-free YUPO is the premium synthetic that’s 100% recyclable.

Freezer paper stencil

A cheap and easy method is to use Freezer paper. As well as wrapping food it is also good for making stencils, the semi transparent paper will allow you to trace your design, and once your motif has been cut out you can adhere the stencil onto the outside of the screen or to your fabric or paper. If adhering to the screen remember to tape all around the edges of the screen to prevent leaks. If you are adhering the stencil to your fabric remember to put something underneath your fabric to protect the surface. The Freezer paper is very easy to remove off the screen or off the fabric just peel off once the fabric is dry, or wash immediately off the screen with the printing ink to prevent blocking your screen.  Only suitable for 5 to 8 prints.

Reynolds freezer paper

Frisket Film

Frisket Film may be used as a stencil for outside of your screen, but as it is low tack it may only be suitable for a few print runs. Always make sure you tape around the edges to prevent inks leaking and to create a reservoir for your inks to rest onto.

Frisket Film

Scotch Masking tape and Flexible masking tape

Great for creating an abstract stencil. Just use the tape on the outside of the screen and the tape will resist the inks to create a linear design. Just peel off when finished and always wash the inks off immediately to stop the screen from blocking. This kind of design is called negative printing as you will be printing the negative space, not the positive image.

 

Substrates to Print onto; 

Heavyweight papers such as 200 to 300 grams per square  meter (gm2) are best to use for the rigours of screen printing as they will not warp during the Screen printing process as much as a medium or a light weight paper will. You should always tape your paper down for printing, this will prevent movement, help with registration and prevent blurring of your design. Papers that are internally sized work best or papers that have a small amount of size, as the inks will sink into the fibres as opposed to sitting on top of the paper. 

For a Fine detailed print, using a smooth toothed paper will provide a sharper image. For a bold image with larger motifs a medium textured paper can be used. 

A 100% cotton paper that is acid free and archival will work well for Fine Art Silk Screen printing as the cotton fibres are durable and absorbent, and will allow the pigments to sing off the paper. Linen and wood pulp papers are also good enough for printing as long as they are acid free.

Silk Screens and Squeegees

Daler-Rowney System 3 Screen Printing Screen

The System 3 Acrylic Screen Printing Screen is comprised of a sturdy wooden frame (41cm x 55cm) with a high quality mesh.

Use it to print acrylics onto fabrics, paper, canvas or board without the involvement of any solvents. You’ll find this is a great introduction to screen printing that brings you high-quality results.

  • A3 size
  • Print acrylics onto fabrics,paper,canvas orboard
  • Wooden frame
  • High quality mesh
  • Designed for repeated use

Daler-Rowney System 3 Screen Printing Squeegee

The Daler-Rowney System 3 Screen Printing Squeegee is made from chunky wood for strength and comfort.

Daler-Rowney System 3 Screen Printing Squeegee

It's designed to fit A3 screen sizes and measures 30cm wide. The flexible rubber blade is square cut for optimal coverage. Ideal for use withSystem 3 Screen Printing acrylics andaccessories.

  • Perfect for screen printing
  • Square edge rubber blade
  • Shaped wooden handle for strength & comfort
  • A3 size (30cm wide)


What paint do you use for screen printing?

Permaset Aqua Standard Screen Printing Ink - 300ml

Permaset Aqua Standard - 300ml Jars. For light fabrics. Ideal for use on Cotton, Polyester, Silk and most synthetic fabrics.

Permaset Aqua Standard Screen Printing Ink - 300ml

For light fabrics Permaset Aqua is a revolution in fabric & screen printing inks.

By using advanced polymer technology combined with the purest pigments Permaset Aqua results in an environmentally friendly easy to use ink that provides long-term durability without compromising its superior soft handle.

This 100% solvent free formula provides pigments that are rich in coverage, intense and produce exceptional colour yield. The resilient resin base holds fast during rub, wash or dry clean while having virtually no feel on fabrics.

Ideal for use on Cotton, Polyester, Silk and most synthetic fabrics.

Permaset Aqua incorporates both Standard (for white & light fabrics) and Supercover colours (for black & dark fabrics)

Permaset Aqua Supercover Screen Printing Ink - 300ml

Permaset Aqua Supercover - 300ml Jars. For dark fabrics. Ideal for use on Cotton, Polyester, Silk and most synthetic fabrics.

Permaset Aqua Supercover Screen Printing Ink - 300ml

For dark fabrics

Permaset Aqua is a revolution in fabric & screen printing inks. By using advanced polymer technology combined with the purest pigments Permaset Aqua results in an environmentally friendly easy to use ink that provides long-term durability without compromising its superior soft handle.

This 100% solvent free formula provides pigments that are rich in coverage, intense and produce exceptional colour yield. The resilient resin base holds fast during rub, wash or dry clean while having virtually no feel on fabrics.

Ideal for use onCotton, Polyester, Silk and most synthetic fabrics.

Permaset Aqua incorporates both Standard (for white & light fabrics) and Supercover colours (for black & dark fabrics)

Permaprint Aquatone Screen Printing Colours 300ml

Permaprint Aquatone Screen Printing Colours 300ml

Features:

  • 100% solvent free
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Perfect for schools, display shops, professional printing works and silkscreen artists
  • Can be used on paper, cardboard , hardboard, masonite, polyesters (mylar), polycarbonates, foam plastics and other such material
  • Good - Excellent light fastness

System 3 Screen Printing Acrylic Colour - 250ml - (Black Cap) 

Highly pigmented, ready-to-use acrylic screen printing inks with excellent colour strength and lightfastness.

System 3's rich pigmentation gives the strong clear colour definition demanded by professional printmakers. Inks have been developed to be ready for use straight from the pot or can be thinned further with screen printing mediums should it be desired. The inks have been designed to permit longer working times on the screens and avoid blocking during print runs. They have optimal consistency for screen printing applications.

Easy to clean off equipment with water, these safe, solvent-free alternatives to traditional oil-based inks are ideal for screen printing on paper, fabric and board.

Click here for more info on screen printing

System 3 Textile Screen Printing Acrylic Colour - 250ml - (White Cap)

System 3 acrylic screen printing ink formulated for screen printing onto fabric such as t-shirts and canvas bags. Use straight from the pot, mix with other colours in the range and dilute with water if necessary. 

System 3 Textile Screen Printing Acrylic Colour - 250ml - (White Cap)

Colours have excellent wash fastness and work well on cotton, cotton mixes, synthetic, silk and natural fibres. For best results heat fix once dry using an iron on the reverse side of the textile.

GOLDEN Silk Screen Medium 236ml 

Silk Screen Medium- For mixing with colours to produce an ink suitable for screen printing. Water-based, Non-textile use, Designed to blend with acrylic paints for silk screen applications.

System 3 Textile Screen Printing Medium 250ml

Textile Printing Medium has been developed for screen printing on fabrics.

Mixed 1:1 with System 3 Colour the medium remains open on the screen, gives strong colour, fine definition and excellent colour fastness (over 20+ washes).

The medium works well on cotton, cotton mixes, synthetics, silk and natural fibres.

System 3 Removable Screen Block - 250ml

Once the drawing fluid is dry, the entire screen surface is then blocked out with System 3 Removable Screen Block, applied bysqueegee. Again, once dry, the previously drawn image is washed out in cold water to leave an open-mesh positive image ready forprinting.

The screens can be reclaimed after printing by washing out the screen block with hot water and soap. Screen Block should be kept upright and stored at normal room temperature.

Click here for more information on screen printing

System 3 Screen Printing Medium - Drawing Fluid - 75ml

Screen Drawing Fluid is applied by brush directly to the screen to create the drawn image.

Apply directly from the bottle with a brush or dilute partially with water to increase flow for finer details. Clean brushes with soap and water once done and rinse out from your screen with soap and warm water.

Part of the Daler Rowney System 3 acrylic screen printing range.

Click here for more information on screen printing

Ready made Kits, to set you up printing straight away!

System 3 Screen Printing Set + FREE Tutorial DVD

System 3’s rich pigmentation gives the strong clear colour definition demanded by professional printmakers. This set consists of printing medium and solvent-free acrylic paint for successful screen printing onto paper, fabric and board.

System 3 Screen Printing Set + FREE Tutorial DVD

Ideal for printing on: T-shirts, cushions,paper,artboard,canvas,wooden panels.

Set contains:

  • Screen Printing Frame with High Quality Mesh (41cm x 55cm)
  • Squeegee (28.5cm x 8mm)
  • System 3 Original Acrylic, 5 x 75ml Tubes
  • System 3 Screen Printing Medium (130ml)
  • System 3 Textile Printing Medium (260ml)
  • System Screen Drawing Fluid (29.5ml)
  • System 3 Removable Screen Block (130ml)
  • Screen Printing DVD
  • Plastic Mixing Spatula
  • Brush
  • Step-by-Step Guide

Marabu TEXTIL Screen Printing Set for Fabrics

Screen printing is a method of printing that involves forcing the printing ink through a finely woven mesh onto the fabric using a squeegee. Marabu Textil Print is water-based, washable to 40°C, and soft to the touch, it is both odourless and light-fast and it’s suitable for both light and dark fabrics with a synthetic fibre content of up to 20%. After drying, fix in the oven (150°C/8 minutes), or iron for 3 minutes without steam.

Marabu TEXTIL Screen Printing Set for Fabrics

Set contains 100ml textile carbon black print, 1 x screen (250x188mm 51T/130), 1 x squeegee and paint knife. (Fabric not included)

  • Screen printing set for fabrics with printing ink and accessories
  • Water Based carbon black print ink
  • Wash at 40°C and fix by oven or iron once dry
  • Create any design you wish
  • Perfect for updating a plain T-shirt, canvas bag and much more

Speedball Intermediate Screen Printing Kit

For artists ready to tackle both the Drawing Fluid/Screen Filler and the Photo Emulsion methods of screen printing to print on paper, this kit is an excellent find!

Speedball Intermediate Screen Printing Kit

The Speedball Intermediate Kit includes:

  • (1) 10"x14" Speedball Wooden Screen Frame; 
  • (1) Red Baron(TM) Squeegee; 
  • (2) 4oz. jars of Speedball Fabric Screen Printing Ink (one each Black, Red); 
  • (1) 4oz. bottle of Drawing Fluid; 
  • (1) 4oz. bottle of Screen Filler; 
  • (1) 3.3oz. bottle of Speedball Diazo Photo Emulsion; 
  • (1) bottle of Speedball Sensitizer; 
  • (1) 4oz. bottle of Speedball Photo Emulsion Remover; 
  • (1) 4oz. bottle of Speedball Speed Clean(TM); 
  • (1) Round Brush; 
  • (2) Craft Sticks; 
  • (1) Speedball Screen Printing Instruction Guide.

Ellie Jakeman
Ellie Jakeman

I have had a strong interest in the visual and creative arts since a very early age. I completed with great success ‘A’ level Fine Art, Textile and Embroidery City and Guilds, Foundation Diploma in Fine Art, (BA hons) Degree in Embroidery and Textiles from Manchester Metropolitan University and a PGCE from the University of Huddersfield. I have taught Art and Design, Fashion and Textiles, Textile design and Fine Art print and Illustration for over 20 years. I have also instigated and program managed many projects for the local community. Before teaching I was a freelance artist and illustrator and decided 4 years ago I would return to freelance and commissioned work. I have created many domestic and commercial murals for hospitals and hospices. I work part time for Artdiscount as a content creator and product tester.


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