What is screen printing?
TOAIArt brings you the most exciting and pocket-friendly collection of printed cotton bedsheets. Here we will provide complete details of how screen-printed bedsheets are created and answer all your related questions.
Screen printing is actually like any other fabric printing technique, it requires manual effort and the use of screens. It helps create handcrafted home decor items such as bedsheets, bedspreads, bed-covers and quilt covers.
What are the steps to printing cotton bedsheet?
First, finalize the design, colors and dimensions of the patterns to be printed. This step is crucial as you would require as many screens as there are colors in the pattern. Function of each screen in screen printing technique is similar to that of a block in block-printing technique.
With this, we come to the critical question, what are screens?
As mentioned above, screens play the same role in screen printing as blocks play in block printing. This means that each distinct shade of color in your pattern will require a different screen, and there will be as many screens needed as there are colors. A combination of multiple screens, each representing a distinct color, will finally help print the complete overall pattern.
Second, create one or multiple screens for printing.
Screens are rectangular sheets made of metals, plastic or wooden boards. They have handles on opposite ends so that artisans can hold them and carry them around. As mentioned, each screen represents only one color; hence they have only a partial design embossed. The partial design embossed on the screen will print all parts of one distinct color, contained within the overall pattern.
How does an embossed pattern on the screen help print on the fabric? The truth is patterns are embossed by creating small holes on the metal sheet, plastic or wooden board. During printing, the screen is placed on top of the fabric to be printed, such as a bedsheet. Color is poured from the other side onto the screen, and the colour seeps through the holes onto the fabric, thus printing the fabric. A combination of screens are required to complete the overall design containing several different colours.
Third, screen printing preparation.
Once the patterns have been finalized and screens created then, it’s time to start printing preparation. There are several factors that go into screen printing preparation. Let us discuss them one after another:
(a) An essential part of preparation is color pigment creation. This is not an easy step as it requires the right amount of binder to be mixed in the pigment before starting to print. To know more about pigment preparation, please check our blog on block printing.
(b) Then comes an integral part of printing table preparation. Printing tables are no ordinary tables with bedsheets pinned to them. They are unique tables with a thick coating of wax on them.
These wax coatings serve dual purpose. One, they are required to fix the bedsheets, quilt-covers, or bedcovers in their place while different screens are placed and then lifted from them. In Rajasthan’s warm climate, table wax becomes soft when the bedsheet is spread on it and pressed. The bedsheet sticks on the wax and stays in place during the printing process. Second, they help make the table surface smooth so there are no irregularities or patchy printing.
In case you are trying screen printing at home, try to make the table surface smooth by wrapping a few thick layers of fabric on top of it. They will ensure that printing fabric stays in place and the overall printing is consistent.
Finally, dry and wash the printed fabric.
It is essential that we let the fabric dry for a sufficient number of hours and sometimes , even for, days so that there are no color smudges or leeching. This is why screen printing is also an art of Rajasthan, where sunlight and high temperatures are consistently available for several months in a year.
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Important FAQs regarding screen printed cotton bed sheets
Q1. What are the advantages of screen printing over block printing?
Both screen printing and block printing techniques are handcrafts of india, primarily practiced in Rajasthan. However, one significant advantage of screen printing is that it can make the printing process much faster.
To make the printing process much faster, larger screens, covering almost half the bedsheet, are created. Two artisans can hold the screen from opposite ends and print the fabric in quick succession.
Contrary to this, block printing requires the artisan to print with smaller blocks and create one small piece of pattern one at a time.
Q2. What are the disadvantages of screen printing over block printing?
Screen printing requires more extensive infrastructure when compared to block printing. As the screens are much larger than the blocks, large-size printing tables are also mandatory. These tables are usually, approximately, hundred inches in width and several meters long. Moreover, there might be several such tables placed in a manufacturing unit hence the cost of building and managing the unit increases.
Q3. What is the difference between screen-printed and block-printed bedsheets?
The screen-printed and block-printed fabric has a very similar look and feel. However, there are a few minor differences. First, in screen printing, it is easier to coordinate with different colored screens and create one clean pattern. However, in block printing, an inexperienced artisan can end-up creating a disorderly design.
Q4. What are the significant challenges in screen printing?
One of the biggest challenges in screen printing is creating the screen itself. Once the pattern is decided, and the embossed screen is designed, it is impossible to make any changes to it. Creating new screens is also not an easy job, especially if we are talking about the large size screens required for printing on bedsheets and bedspreads.
Maintaining old screens also requires effort. Colour pigment often sticks inside the small holes on the screen. Hence screens need to be watched thoroughly after each use.
Q5. What kind of wax is used for coating the printing table?
Wax serves an essential purpose in holding the bedspread in its place. Rajasthan’s warm weather, especially high summer temperatures, keeps it slightly soft so that the bedding fabric sticks to it. However, during winter, standard wax becomes stiff and cannot stick to the material. Hence a different variety of resin with a lower melting point is used during winter.
Q6. Does Rajasthan climate help in screen printing?
Rajasthan’s warm and dry climate helps immensely during all hand-printing processes. High temperatures keep the fabric very dry, thus helping them absorb the color. Otherwise, the pigments would spread a bit and give an untidy look to the material. Apart from this, several pigments work best in warm climates.
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