Photo Essay

This is a step-by-step process of a darkroom photographic and printed technique of serigraphy, or silk-screen printing. This segment is taught by Julio Alvarez.

First we select a desired printed graphic or text of which we want to make a silkscreen original. The image is already on an acetate transparency or vellum paper, which allows light whenever there is no ink. The silk screen mesh is still fresh, like polyester canvas stretched across a wooden frame. Keep in mind that an original must be made for every color that appears in the final result. Posters of thirteen colors required thirteen silkscreen originals, one for every run.

Next we prepare a photosensitive solution of five parts emulsion, one part gum bichromate. The solution, simply called the emulsion, is turquoise blue and is coated evenly and thinly across the entire mesh. Once this is complete, the emulsion needs to dry in the darkroom because it is light-sensitive. We use a hair blowdryer.

Third we align the transparency image onto the prepared silkscreen, and sandwich this onto the lightbox with a heavy sponge, a wood plank and 20 kilos of brick weight. With all the lights off in the darkroom, the lightbox is turned on for several minutes, to sear the image onto the emulsion surface.

Lastly, the part of the emulsion that was not exposed to light and was not developed, will crumble and wash off with a pressured spray of water, leaving permeable and porous silk fabric. This roughly creates a negative of our image. To ensure that the image will be crisp, we must then use an atomizer spray and cotton swabs to remove excess dried emulsion.

In How To Silkscreen Part II, artisans use “Sericlin” to remove smudges, and a “Blocker” to add on a quick-dry solution to retouch spots that have been missed.

Flickr Summary


Spanish Words of the Day, chemicals: “deluir” to dilute | “azufre” sulfur | “bloqueador” | “atomizador” spray | “hisopo, cotonete” a cotton swab | “sericlin” | “revelar las mallas” develop the mesh silk | “barniz transparente” clear varnish

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