Silk Screen Prints

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Two silk screen prints from Goldcrest Gallery: Calico and Clockwork

Silk Screen Prints

Many of the lovely designs in the Goldcrest Gallery collection were originally created to be silk screen prints, ready for reproduction onto textiles. Some of the original designs for our greeting cards and fine art prints are, in fact, silk screen prints on fabric or textured paper. The prints were designed as part of a portfolio of hand-produced patterns for the textile industry.

The Silk Screen Printing Process

Once the design was ready, it was transferred onto an acetate sheet. In the 1970s, this was often accomplished by handpainting. The screen used for printing was a wooden frame with an emulsion-coated silk mesh stretched across it. The acetate sheet was laid over this and exposed to intense light, which hardened the emulsion except for the areas covered by the design. These areas were then washed off, leaving a stencil of the design on the silk mesh screen. A separate screen had to be prepared for each colour in the design.

To print using the silk screen, the fabric was first ironed down smoothly onto a long flat table. The screen was laid over this and textile printing ink was poured into the screen at one end. Using a squeegee (a strip of rubber embedded in a wooden handle), the printer spread the ink right across the screen and squeezed it onto the underlying fabric. When the screen was lifted away, a clear print of the design remained. This process was repeated many times to complete yards of fabric. If there were several colours in the design, the screens for each one had to be positioned with great accuracy so as to fit in perfectly with the parts of the design that had already been printed.

Calico and Clockwork

Calico‘, one of two silk screen prints in our collection which use the same design, is a monochromatic pattern featuring small cogwheel motifs. Some of these are silhouetted in black, while others have dotted edges or have been left plain. It is silk screen printed onto cream cotton. ‘Clockwork‘ has been silk screen printed in black on textured paper, and then hand-coloured in soft crayons. In both cases only one silk screen was required to print the design, because the pattern has only one colour. To print ‘Clockwork’ with the extra colours would have required extra screens.

Both these attractive versions of the original silk screen print are available as handmade greeting cards, a sophisticated choice for best wishes or general occasions. Printed in fade-proof pigment inks, they make lovely mini prints for a shelf or wall. ‘Calico’ and ‘Clockwork’ are also available as beautiful A4 fine art prints!