Screen printing is the process of transferring a stenciled design onto a flat surface using a mesh screen, ink and a squeegee. Fabric and paper are the most commonly screen-printed surfaces, but with specialized inks it’s also possible to print onto wood, metal, plastic, and even glass. The basic method involves creating a stencil on a fine mesh screen, and then pushing ink (or paint, in the case of artwork and posters) through to create an imprint of your design on the surface beneath.
The process is sometimes called 'silk screening' or 'silk screen printing' and while the actual printing process is always fairly similar, the way the stencil is created can vary, depending on the materials used. Different stenciling techniques include:
Using masking tape or vinyl to cover the desired areas of the screen.
Painting the stencil onto the mesh using 'screen blockers' such as glue or lacquer.
Using a light-sensitive emulsion to create a stencil, which is then developed in a similar way to a photograph (you can read more about this in our step-by-step guide).
Designs made using the screen printing technique may use just one shade of ink, or several. In the case of multicolored items, the colors must be applied in individual layers, using separate stencils for each ink.