Registered in England
Proofing, Printing and Steaming
The first job of proofing a new design (printing a test panel for the first time) is to register the screens together. On the print tables is a metal rail running along one edge, with large metal "stops" equidistant along it.
On the edge of the screen there is a "T" bar and two adjustable metal bolts. The "T" bar locks against the metal "stop" and registers the screen left to right. The bolts unscrew until they are touching the metal rail and are then locked. These register the screen up and down. The screen is printed and the next can then be registered to it.
A wide table is fitted with a hand carriage. This enables the printer to print single handed with a very large screen. This table has an adhesive surface so that when we print lengths of dress fabric, they are glued down to prevent movement. On the front table, where we print scarves, each panel is held in place with double sided tape and masking tape, over a calico backing cloth.
Flat-bed hand screen printing, to give it the correct title, is what we carry out at Beckford. The rubber blade set in an aluminium handle (a squeegee), is pushed by the printer across the design, forcing the dye paste through the "open" areas of the screen. By the time the printer has gone down the table with one colour and then washed out the screen, although not completely dry, the print is dry enough for the next screen to be printed.
Once the print has been completed, the length of silk is hung up above the table to dry while the printer tapes down the next length of fabric for printing. At this stage the colour is being held in the printing gum and is sitting on the surface of the silk. This colour must be "fixed" into the cloth and we do this by steaming. During the steaming process the silk fibres open up and the dye molecules enter into the fibre. The gum molecules are much bigger and can't get in. The result is that the colour is trapped inside the fabric and the gum is then washed away.
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