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Screen printing, also called serigraphy or silkscreen, is the process of applying stencils to tightly stretched screens, and then forcing ink through the screen to a surface underneath, which can be paper or textile. The stencil may be a card in various shapes, or a chemical applied to make some areas of the screen nonporous so the ink cannot pass through.
The stencil method has been traced to ancient China, and was used in conjunction with woodblock printing techniques. But silkscreens were not widely available in the Western world as they were in Asia. It was not until the 1700s that the screen printing practice became popular in other regions of the world.
The process involves ink that is “squeegeed” through the mesh material, and the stencil masks out the areas that should not receive the ink. Multiple screens and multiple stencils are used and applied one at a time to the paper or textile surface below the screen to create areas of different color.
Screen printing was used extensively in the early 20th century to print designs on textiles and fine papers that would be used as wall or furniture coverings
In the 1700s, when screen printing became widely popular, other materials similar to chiffon were used for screens
During the Depression in the United States, artists were given federal subsidies to create posters and prints under the Works Progress Association (WPA), encouraging the development of this technique for artistic and commercial purposes