Birth of Screenprinting

Introduction
It is believed that man began wearing clothes around 170,000 years ago finally shedding off the loin cloth made from animal skin. Thanks to this new advancement, man was finally able to migrate to distant lands and explore the world especially places with colder climates and higher altitudes. You may be wondering how experts were able to determine this. They followed the evolution of lice as well as human migration patterns. 170,000 years ago can be said to be the period when the first textile was made. Information regarding the type of cloth worn is a little scanty but many believe the first textile was made with silk. Over the years, color and patterns were added on cloth making them to be attractive eliminating the dull look. Several methods were used to add color and patterns on clothing and one notable method is screen printing. So, what is the history of screen printing?

Where it all began!
Experts have traced the beginning of screen printing to the Song Dynasty in China around the period of 960 to 1279 AD. As a form of stenciling, it was adapted in other countries around the Asian continent like Japan. The Japanese people used the idea on silk which acted as a mesh. This was done with the inclusion of block printing thus advancing the process by so many years.
Silk became scarce and expensive especially around the world leading to the process taking a back seat for a while. Despite the setback, screen printing was introduced in Western Europe around the 1700s. This is attributed to traders who traveled between Europe and China.

Formative Years
In the late 1800s, screen printing found its foothold in America and the UK. The same principles were used but the name of the game was changed. Thanks to improved technology, screen printing advanced leading to the use of waxed paper as stencils. These were patented in 1877. To ensure successful screen printing, the stencils were framed with wood, placed over a piece of fabric while ink was poured on top. Using a squeegee, the ink was spread over the design finally imprinting the stencil on the fabric below.
The delicate stencils were called Cyclostyle in UK and Mimeograph in the US. The fine and porous waxed paper used was called Yoshino. To prevent damage to the waxed stencils, they were sandwiched between a sheet of muslin and a gauze. This provided the much needed protection and ensured reuse of the stencil over and over again.

The year 1890 saw the invention of the Neo Cyclostyle by one David Gestetner which led to the use of a hinged silk covered frame ensuring the frame was supported during roller printing. In the same period, printers experimented with photo reactive chemicals called actinic light. They were activated by cross linking or hardening traits of potassium, sodium or ammonium chromate and dichromate with glue and gelatin compounds.
This led to the introduction of commercial printing where use of sensitizers that are far safer and less toxic became widespread.

20th Century
During the sixties, Andy Warhol popularized screen printing which was identified as serigraphy. Andy was supported by Michel Caza, founding member of FESPA and is renowned for the depiction of Marilyn Monroe. Despite this, the process was still slow to execute.
Michael Vasilantone, an American entrepreneur developed and patented a rotary multi color garment printing machine in 1960. The machine was designed to print logos and team information on bowling garments. As years went by, Michael’s patent was licensed to multiple manufacturers. This created a boom as the device became popular.

Present day
Screen printing is widely used to develop a large batch of produced graphics for example posters, T-shirts and display stands among others. Thanks to improved technology, full color prints can be developed in Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. Notable artists who have used screen printing leading to its popularity include Arthur Okamura, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Harry Gottlieb among others. They did so as a way of expressing creativity and artistic vision.
These are the same principles used by 30Prints. 30Prints takes much pride in the tradition of screen printing, creativity and high quality prints. You can never go wrong when you select 30Prints.

 

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