Based in Sydney’s inner west our studio is a hive of activity. The showroom and office are the center of the building and within whistling distance of the adjacent printing area and sewing room upstairs. From the drawing board to the heat setter (affectionately called the ‘pizza oven’) our skilled team oversees every part of the process. Using traditional hand screen printing techniques and small scale production we operate with a small team on two 20m tables.
With over 25 years experience Mark Cawood has designed an impressive catalogue of original designs. Starting with hand sketches the designs are taken into the computer and developed into seamless repeats then separated by colour layer. The technical skill of doing separations is an art form in itself with some of our designs broken down into 6 colours and wallpaper working on a 4 sided repeat.
The final artwork is then exposed onto a silk screen stretched between a aluminum frame. All of our screens are 100% Australian made. The screen is selected for it’s size and suitability to the printed material with finer fabric requiring a finer screen. The method used to expose the design onto the screen is similar to hand printing a photograph from a negative – emulsion is applied to the screen and the design “film” is exposed onto screen using a light source. Each colour requires a separate silk screen, which is printed in layers making registration essential to a high quality print.
We mix all of our colours in house using water based inks which are white spirit and hydrocarbon free – safer for both us and the environment. We have a large archive of hand mixed colours which form the recipe book for endless future colours. All team members contribute to the colour selection process, drawing from current and historical trends and translating them to each specific design.
Our long print tables are fitted with metal rails and adjustable knobs which can be adjusted to the specific repeat of each job. The ink is pulled across the screen, passed between two printers along the length of the table. The printers work in tandem skipping every second repeat to allow the ink to dry. We are deeply passionate about this traditional method of printing and the quality it produces. For behind the scenes process videos and photos visit our instagram feed.
The art of hand silk-screen printing began in China and Japan and weren’t adopted by Europe till the 1700s. The English adopted this method in the early 1900s, after discovering the process in India, producing decorative wallpapers and fabrics for the upper class. In the 1960s these techniques became more mainstream with Pop artists like Andy Warhol bringing them to the public eye.