The Process of Making a Silk-Screen Print -Serigraph
We followed Cecilia Sikström when she made the two silk-screen prints “Marlene” and “Venus” at the print workshop “LITO+SCREEN” in Stockholm. Catarina Kusoffsky is the printer.
Silk-screen printing is an old printing technique. In the art of graphics it is usually called serigraphy. The method is to press the printing paint through a fabric screen. Originally silk was used but today nylon is the most commonly used fabric. Some parts of the fabric will let the paint pass through and other parts will stop the paint from passing through. The paint may also be stopped by specially made stencils.
In the series of pictures below you can follow the process of making one silk-screen print which, in the end will be cut into the two prints shown above. The one to the left represents Marlene Dietrich and the other one “Venus”.
The three pictures below show the results after the first three stages of printing. At a glance this looks easy but demands much preparation, precision and patience as well as a very good collaboration between the artist and the printer. After these three stages there are six more to follow.
A plastic sheet original will be created for each stage of printing. The artist makes a drawing in Indian ink on a clear, plastic sheet for each separate colour. Below you can view the plastic sheet originals for the first three stages of printing in order to achieve the results above. Please notice that the light brown details in the second print is the result of apricot colour printed on top of the darker brown colour.
Below we will present the process of making a silk-screen print. We will get into the process during the second stage of printing and when preparations for the third stage are about to begin.
In the printing press there is a nylon fabric stretched and mounted over an aluminium frame.
This was a general view of the silk screen printing process. However, there are more steps to describe.
How does the sheet stay in place during the printing process?
How is the artist´s original transferred to the nylon fabric, etc.?
The preparations for each stage of printing are an accurate and time consuming process. The nylon fabric needs to be treated before the artist´s original can be transferred.
Low pressure is caused by a vacuum cleaner. The low pressure helps the original to stay in place during the UV-light illumination. The plastic foil has to be stretched out properly in order to remove all creases which would otherwise cause marks that must be removed before the printing goes ahead.
When the light sensitive coloured layer is exposed to UV-light it will react photochemically and harden. The areas that are protected by the artist´s original ink image will not be affected and will remain unhardened. These areas will be easily rinsed off using high pressure washing.
Air is sucked through these tiny holes using a suction apparatus made from a vacuum cleaner. This suction keeps the sheet in place.
Catarina Kusoffsky started out with 220 serigraphic sheets. 22 silk screen prints were discarded after being scrutinized by Cecilia. This left an edition of 180 “Marlene” prints plus an ea-edition (epreuve artiste) of 10%.
Having the opportunity to follow Cecilia Sikström and Catarina Kusoffsky at work we realize what good value silk screen prints really are with respect to amount of work that goes into making them.
In conclusion we would like to thank Cecilia Sikström and Catarina Kusoffsky for this opportunity to document the silk screen printing process.
Christina Wallnér och Karin Norén Verksamhetsansvariga för Enjoy Scandinavian Art