TRADITIONAL HAND SCREEN PRINTING
The art of hand silk-screen printing began in China and Japan as early as the 9th Century. After discovering the process in India in the 1800's, the English adopted the technique, producing decorative wallpapers and fabrics for the upper class. In the 1960s these techniques gained mainstream attention with Pop artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein who capitalised on the repetitive aspect of screen printing to bring art out of the gallery world and in into the everyday.
Here at Publisher we combine these traditional techniques with some slight modernisation, aluminium replacing the traditional woodern frames and polyester mesh in place of silk, to create beautiful and unique textiles and wallpapers.
The Print Room
Based in Sydney’s inner west our studio and shop are a hive of activity. The shop and office are the centre of the building and within whistling distance of the adjacent print room and sewing room upstairs.
From the drawing board to the heat setter our skilled team oversees every part of the process. Using traditional hand screen printing techniques and small scale production we operate with a small two man team on two 20 metre tables.
The Design Process
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. Once finished the art work is printed on to clear film, ready to be exposed on to screen.
Making the Screen
Once artwork has been finalized and printed on to film it is then exposed onto screen. Our screen are made from polyester mesh stretched between an aluminum frame. The screen is selected for it’s size and suitability to the printed material with finer fabric requiring a finer mesh 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 UV light source. Once the screen is exposed, any holes in the emulsion are covered and then the screen is ready for printing. Each colour requires a separate screen, which is printed in layers making registration essential to a high quality print.
The Ink Room
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.
The Printing Process
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.