The Art of Silkscreening

Praxis Prints
Jan 26, 2017 7:44PM
Paisaje de juguete amarillo, 1987
Praxis Prints

1.What is a silkscreen?

A silkscreen is an original artwork created by prestigious artists.

Silkscreening, as engraving (lithographs, etchings, etc) is a form of multiple art, which means the work is:

.conceived by the artist himself

.supervised by the silkscreen master

.aproved by the silkscreen workshop


2. Steps

a. What elements are used in the production of a silkscreen?

A wooden board with a tight silk sheet attached to it, called shablon.

A wooden racket, with a rubber border, called racla.

b. How to prepare the shablon?

After tightening the silk fabric, a coat of lacquer is used to seal the areas where color will not go through.


c. How many shablons are prepared?

It is needed one shablon for each color, so the amount of boards used, depends on the variety of colors that the silkscreen will have.


d. What does the ‘first screen’ consist of?

The ink color corresponding to the first screen is placed on top of the silk fabric attached to the wooden board. This ink will be dragged by the racla, and by the pressure applied during this process, it will be transferred to the cotton paper that was previously placed below. In this way, the only area that will be colored, will be the one where the lacquer was not applied.

This process will be repeated on every cotton paper that will be used for the creation of the silkscreen (the number of papers will determine the size of the edition), and it will be done for every color that it’s determined the silkscreen will have.

For each ‘screen’, a different shablon with a new silk fabric will be created.


e. What is the meaning of the quotient written in black pencil on the left bottom side?

Each silkscreen is an original artwork, unique and exclusive, signed and numbered by the artist, reason why each work is identified with a double numbering. The first number indicates the edition, the second number indicates the number of papers that were used, which means, the size of the edition.


f. What are the A.P.?

The silkscreens that do not have the numbering, but do have the letters A.P. written in them are the Artist’s Proofs. These are the drafts that are done before creating the final edition.

g. What is the kind of paper that is used?

 Silkscreens are done on BFK Rives, 100% French cotton paper.


3. Origins

a. Where was it created?

Silkscreening is a technique created in China, around 2000 years ago, and it reappeared in Europe, during the Belle Epoque.

b. Origins

During the first Millenium, mesh made out of human hair was used to create repeated prints. Eventually, these meshes were made with silk, which was called sericum, giving the origin for the name silkscreen.

c. First uses

Silkscreens were used for decorating fabrics and the interior of the temples, by using sheets of paper or metal, which were cut or craved. This ‘stencil technique’ was used for quite some time, until the creation of the silk mesh, which perfectioned the technique radically.


4. Why are limited edition silkscreens the boom of the 20th Century?

Having inherited the art of silkscreening from the European Post-War artists, during the 60’s, American Pop and Op Art artists were the ones who incorporated the art of silkscreening to their practice and made it popular.

Nowadays, silkscreening is the most utilized method by contemporary painters to make their works accessible to a broader audience.

Famous artists, such as Picasso, Dali, Miró, Vasarey, Hockney, Warhol, Lichtenstein and Botero decide to use the silkscreening technique in order to achieve effects impossible to get by any other method.

The artist, deliberately chooses silkcreening and creates an artwork exclusively for this technique.


5. Why is a silkscreen an original artwork?

What makes a silkscreen an original art piece is that it cannot be translated into any other technique, and the fact that the author was absolutely involved in the proves of its creation.


6. What is a reproduction?

A reproduction is a copy, from which limited mechanical editions are made (offset).

Reproductions are not exclusive, their production is not supervised by the artist, as most of the times, they are created after the artist has passed away.

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