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Block Prints

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What is a Serigraph?

Serigraphy, also known as silkscreening or screen-printing, is the process of producing an image, or serigraph, by pressing color though a fabric stencil comprised off porous and non-porous sections. The serigraph may be produced onto a fabric, such as a t-shirt, or other material such as ceramic, paper, or wood.

Serigraphy is said to be based on the Japanese art of katazome, a form of stenciling using waterproof papers that was used in ancient Japan to copy an image. Some say however, that the art originated in the Fiji Islands where banana leaves were used as stencils. The art of serigraphy as it is known today was patented in England in the early 1900s. The first commercial use of serigraphy in the United States occurred in 1914 when John Pilsworth developed a process to produce multiple multi-color prints from a single fabric screen, which was used to make multicolored signs and posters.

During the First World War, serigraphy became the preferred method for printing flags and other patriotic banners because of its ability to create relatively identical and multi-layered images. Most of us probably own a serigraphed t-shirt and many of us have seen Andy Warhol's use of serigraphy in conjunction with photographic headshots of famous people such as Marilyn Monroe

What is a Block Print?

A block print is a piece of printed material made using the block printing technique. In block printing, the printer carves the design to be printed into a solid block, much like a stamp. The design can include text or be purely visual, and the block can be applied to paper or textiles. Block printing is an ancient printing technique, and numerous examples of historical block prints can be found in the historical records of Europe and Asia.

The origins of the block print can be found in the round cylinder seals used by the Mesopotamians. These seals are the first known examples of a fixed design on an element which is designed to be rolled over another element, thus transferring the design. Cylinder seals were made from carved stone or clay, but printers started to switch to wood because it was easy to handle and carve. Woodblock prints, also called woodcuts, dominated the nascent publishing industry for hundreds of years. The engraving is a descendant of the block print, although the technique for creating the block with which to print is different.














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