Basics of Silk Screening

Though silk screening has been in practice for centuries dating back to the Chinese Song Dynasty (960 - 1279 AD), only within the last 100 years has it been used in the United States industrial and artistic sectors. Popularized most by the Pop Art artists of the 1960s including Andy Warhol, silk screening is a relatively new form of artistic medium in the grand scheme of things. The process which once took weeks to months to perfectly make is now completed mostly by automatic machines but some artisans have continued to work with manual machinery. 

At WOW Closet we work with amazing silk screening artisans that work with us to help create not only the artwork that we proudly sell but also the ideas behind them. As some of you may know screen printing is requires far more work and precision than regular heat pressed shirts. The process can be long and arduous especially when the designs become more complicated and/or detailed. So, how does silk screening work? While we can't break down the nitty gritty details for you, we can give you a basic idea of the work and dedication needed to create some of your favorite shirts!

First, a printing frame roughly the size of a t-shirt must be created to support the design as it is laid on the fabric medium. This piece will be put into the machine. The machine, or printing press, stands as the core of the process. Next, a piece of sheer fabric which can be silk or polyester is stretched across the frame followed by a thin sheet of plastic. On the sheet of plastic the design is cut into it so as to allow the ink to be set on the proper location. The set is then laid on a board where the screens are covered in a photo sensitive emulsion such as diazo photo emulsion then placed into an exposure unit so that the image can be properly "burned" onto the screen. Once completed, the screen is washed so that only the design remains. From this step, the stencil is laid on top of the desired shirt location and, using the squeegee tool, ink is applied. This process is repeated depending on how many colors and textures are desired on the shirt due to each color needing it's own silk screening and curing, and is completed by starting from the lightest color and ending at the darkest. Each time the fabric needs to be flash cured it generally takes 30 seconds at 320 degrees Fahrenheit. And after the whole process is done the shirts generally require further heating to allow the ink to remain long-lasting and perfect. 

Due to the high color and line precision silk screening is able to produce sharper and more intense images, some with textures like ours which utilize different techniques including the use of puff additive, halftone, and flock printing. Silk screening is a method in which you can be ensured that the product you are receiving is far more long lasting with lesser chances of fading or wearing designs. The t-shirt will be able to be washed numerous times without any problem. 

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