Margot Cormier Splane Visual Artist

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Internationally Award Winning Artist

Creating a Hand Pulled Serigraph

What is a serigraph it starts with a pencil drawing
Serigraph printing creates an image in stencil layers, this has 18 layers

The Process of Creating a Hand Pulled Serigraph

What is a serigraph, well for me, the process begins with a well-planned line drawing. It is really difficult to make changes once the layers start going down, so I take my time with this stage. The silk screen printing technique I use is over 1000 years old and originated in China. Pulling the ink across the paper with a squeegee is still done the traditional way, by me in my studio. This printmaking technique arrived in North America around 1900, and was initially widely used for industrial purposes. In the 1930’s artists began adopting the silk screen printing process and renamed it ‘serigraph printing.’
Painting a Stencil
Placing the painted stencil and film on the light table
There have, of course, been advancements in the materials used to create a serigraph. However pulling ink across paper to create edition of nearly identical prints by hand, is still very challenging. Originally stencils were hand painted directly onto the silk. My stencils are created on a sheet of clear acetate, using opaque black ink. This hand painted stencil is then burned into a stencil film on a light table.
Stencil film placed in developing solution
Rinsing unwanted areas from stencil
The exposed film is placed into a developing solution, and then sprayed with warm water to rinse away the unwanted areas, leaving the film with the stencil pattern on it.
Adhering the stencil to the screen
Carding on the block out
The film is then adhered to a screen, and when the stencil is dry the backing is peeled away leaving open the areas for the ink to come through. Block out is then spread around the outside of the stencil to keep the borders of the paper clean when printing.
Mixing a color, you have to get the hue and intensity just right
Attaching the Screen to the table
Ink or paint is then carefully mixed up, the shade and intensity are important because this will affect not only the colors that are already on the print, but also the colors that are going on with subsequent stencils. This is because the image is built up in translucent layers. The screen with the stencil is then fastened securely to hinges on a table, so that it can go up and down, but always returns to the exact same position for printing.
Putting the registration guides in place
Pulling a color on the serigraph
One of the prints from the edition in progress, is carefully lined up under the stencil. Then registration marks are taped against that print so that every piece of paper from the edition can slide into the same spot using those registration marks. The ink is then put on the screen, and pulled across each of the prints using a squeegee, and they are hung to dry.
Cleaning around the printing area
Getting ready for some heavy duty cleaning

Then everything has to be cleaned up, (this is the least fun part). In a well ventilated area using solvents, and soap, the screen has to be cleaned and prepped for the next stencil. This whole process, beginning after you complete a stencil, and ending when you are ready to begin working on the next stencil, takes about 5 hours. Creating a single stencil, depending on the size and detail, can take anywhere from 1/2 an hour, to 15 hours or more. I do not get to see final image until I am pulling the last color.

When the printing is completed, I put aside and destroy the prints which are flawed, and sign and number the ‘identical’ ones which become part of my edition. The number of stencils I print in an edition varies, but is usually between 12 and 30. If a print gets smudged, or is off register, or attracts an errant dog hair, or prints imperfectly at any stage in this process, it does not make it into the edition.

Giving everything a good soaping down
Finishing up in the studio after printing

Serigraph Definition

In the early 1900’s artists began to use an industrial process called ‘silk screen printing’ to create original prints. The name ‘serigraph print’ was adopted, to distinguish its use by artists to create artwork, from its industrial use. The silk screen process originated in China more than a thousand years ago, as a way to transfer designs onto fabric.

Original Print Verses Limited Edition (Reproduction) Print

What is the difference between an Original Print such as a Serigraph Print, an intaglio, an etching or a wood block print, verses a limited edition reproduction print? Quite simply, an Original Print is a work of art, a reproduction print is a photograph of a work of art. A limited edition reproduction print is usually printed on good paper, and it is signed and numbered by the artist, but it is still a photograph.

To see a video that takes you through all the steps of pulling a single color, please click on the photo link to go to my YouTube video ‘Creating a hand made Serigraph Print’

what is serigraph click here to see a YouTube Demo