Silkcreen Printing, also goes by the term: Serigraph. The Word Serigraph is a combination of two Greek words, seicos, meaning silk, and graphos, meaning writing. Silkscreen Printing and other stencil-based printing methods are the oldest forms of printmaking.
Silkscreen Printing can be traced as far back as 9000 BC, when stencils were used to decorate Egyptian tombs and Greek mosaics. From 221-618 AD stencils were used in China for production of images of Buddha. Japanese artists turned screen printing into a complex art by developing an intricate process wherein a piece of silk was stretched across a frame to serve as the carrier of hand cut stencils.
Silkscreen printing found its way to the west in the 15th century. The original material used in screen printing was silk hence the name Silkscreen printing. Today polyester is the fabric of choice.
Screen printing is a printing technique whereby a mesh is used to transfer ink onto a substrate, except in areas made impermeable to the ink by a blocking stencil. A blade or squeegee is moved across the screen to fill the open mesh apertures with ink, and a reverse stroke then causes the screen to touch the substrate momentarily along a line of contact. This causes the ink to wet the substrate and be pulled out of the mesh apertures as the screen springs back after the blade has passed. One color is printed at a time, so several screens can be used to produce a multicolored image or design.
There are various terms used for what is essentially the same technique. Traditionally the process was called screen printing or silkscreen printing because silk was used in the process. It is also known as serigraphy, and serigraph printing. Currently, synthetic threads are commonly used in the screen printing process. The most popular mesh in general use is made of polyester. There are special-use mesh materials of nylon and stainless steel available to the screen printer. There are also different types of mesh size which will determine the outcome and look of the finished design on the material.
Silkscreen printing in art
In the United States, screen printing took on the status of art in the 1930s when a group of artists working with the Federal Art Project experimented with the technique and subsequently formed the National Serigraphic Society. American artists began making “fine art” screen- prints and devised the term “Serigraph” to distinguish fine art from commercial screen printing. During the 1960s, Serigraphy was popular with POP artists, who were attracted to its bold areas of flat color.