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Serigraphy is a technique of printing, where a screen made of silk is used for producing multiples copies of artwork. The word ‘serigraphy’ is a combination of the Latin word seri (silk) and the Greek word graphein (to write or draw).
Commonly known as ‘Screen printing’ or ‘Silk Screen Printing’, Sericulture is a rendition of an original artwork created by the silk-screen printing process. Serigraphy is a very laborious technique where a stencil is used to superimpose a design or image on a very fine mesh screen. This technique is used for printing ‘limited edition serigraphs’ or when the print quantity is less.
A silkscreen, squeegee and hinge clamps used for screen printing or serigraph
How does it work?
Serigraphy, also known as silk screening, screen printing or serigraph printing, is a printing technique, where a stencil or screen is made, usually of silk. In this process, the image is transferred on to a silkscreen. This screen is then tightly stretched over a wooden or aluminium frame.
The areas of the screen are blocked off with a stencil (a negative of the image). The screen is then placed on top of the paper, and ink is applied to the screen. The ink is forced through a fine screen onto a paper below. This is done through a rubber-bladed squeegee to spread the ink evenly across the screen, allowing ink to pass through the open spaces onto the paper below. A different screen is used for each colour in the print, resulting in a final serigraph with great colour density, colour saturation and texture.
Once the serigraphs are completed, each one is individually inspected by the original artist, then signed, titled and numbered. After the printing, the artist destroys all trial copies and stencils, guaranteeing a one-time printing of a specific number of pieces.
Screens were originally made of silk; hence this technique came to be known as silk screen printing. Though now, the screens are made up of finely woven polyester or nylon.
Why all the different names?
Though all the above-mentioned names are used interchangeably. But there is a minor difference. Though ‘silk screening’ and ‘screen printing’ are the same terms, ‘Serigraph’ is an artistic term used for artistic application, while the term screen printing is used for industrial use.
A serigraph print
History of Serigraph
Serigraphy is the oldest form of printing. The origin of Serigraph can be traced to the prints, woodcuts and block prints of the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD), and later to the Japanese in the 15th century, when artists used the technique to transfer designs to silk fabric.
But it took quite some time before Serigraphy was introduced in Europe. Even then the technique was not very popular. It was only in the 20th century the painting technique caught on when silk mesh became more available and a profitable outlet was discovered. Initially silk printing by used by Europeans to print expensive wallpaper made of linen, silk and other fine fabrics, but as the market expanded and techniques became more refined, serigraphy became a valuable industrial technology.
The things were different in North America, where silk printing was “officially” declared as an art form. In the year 1930s, a group of artists coined the term ‘serigraphy’ to differentiate their serigraphs from those produced for commercial purposes. These artists later went on to form the National Serigraphic Society. The credit of popularizing screen printing as serigraphy goes to pop artist Andy Warhol.
Are serigraphs reproductions of original artwork?
No. Serigraphs are original art. Unlike reproduction prints, which are merely a colour picture of existing artwork, serigraphs require the involvement of two artists: the original artist and the printer.
Although automated serigraph machines do exist, the printer we work with creates serigraphs entirely by hand. He is a master at his craft, matching the colour of the original exactly, cutting the stencils and manually applying the colour evenly.
“To draw through silk” is a literal implication of Serigraphy, an English print technique initiated in the early 20th century. Carl Zigrosser, an eminent curator of prints of the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts coined the term to distinguish fine art prints from other screen prints. Serigraphs have been popularized by acclaimed artists like M.F Husain, S.H. Raza, Paritosh Sen, Lalu Prasad Shaw and others. In 2000, Husain designed his serigraph scrolls and had 500 editions of his ashta vinayak made. Galleries like the Serigraphy Studio have legitimized this print technique by holding exhibitions and applauding the artistic creations.