The History of Screen Printing
Screenprinting also known as a silkscreen or serigraphy and originating from China, silk screen printing is a stencil based, planographic process. A wooden or aluminium frame is stretched with a woven fabric, originally made of silk, but now more commonly made of synthetic material. Ink is forced through a stencil of the negative image placed upon the fabric. Areas that are not part of the image are blocked out with a variety of stencil based methods such as cut paper or photographic emulsion. A squeegee is then used to press ink through the unblocked area of the screen, directly onto to paper or fabric.
Screenprinting originated in China (around AD 221) as a way of transferring designs onto fabrics.
Following this the Japanese began using simple stenciling techniques as a way to create imagery. At this time stencils were cut out of paper and the mesh was woven from human hair. Stiff brushes were used to force ink through the mesh onto the fabric.
In the 17th century silk screens were being used in France as a way of printing onto fabric. Stiff brushes were still being used as a way to push ink through the mesh. It was here that the practice of stretching silk over a frame to support stencils was initiated but it is now known by whom.
In the early part of the 20th century squeegees were introduced as a way of pulling ink through the screen mesh.
In 1938 in New York a group of artists began experimenting with screenprinting as an artistic medium onto paper. They coined the term ‘serigraphy.’
In the 1960’s Pop Artists such as Peter Blake, Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg used screen printing as an integral element to their practice, thus establishing it and popularising it as a medium for creating contemporary art.