The Art of Making: Screen Printed Wallpaper

Posted by: Karen Fuller

It’s all about the details—especially when making a simple, one-color pattern sing. The quality of the paper, the color, and how the pattern is printed are all equally important factors. We love the delicate color variation in a hand pulled ground, and how the screened pattern adds a subtle texture to the paper.  Hand-done processes make a difference, even if you can’t quite put your finger on what makes it special. We believe in using our hands whenever possible.

Screen printing means pushing dye over a screen where ink is impenetrable in certain areas to transfer a design. It is best used for patterns that are simple with few colors. When Rebecca designs a pattern to be screen printed, she thinks about how it will translate onto the paper through the printing process. As with most of her designs, the screen-printed wallpaper designs begin in her sketchbook. Here she focuses on simplicity- beautiful shapes and marks that have an effortless quality.

Our screen-printed wallpapers are made in Great Barrington, MA with printers who have more than 30 years of wallpaper printing experience. The studio is bursting with creativity with the focal point being several long work tables used for printing. A table is long enough to print 6 rolls of wallpaper. Each roll is five yards. That’s a long table-31 yards! The walls are lined with shelves storing supplies, archived prints, and so many printed samples. It is really inspiring!

Our designs are printed on a vellum paper with fabric ink. Fabric ink is used because it is absorbed by the paper more easily and is less opaque than a pigment. It also helps us achieve the detail in the design. Then it is topped with a clear coat so the colors are locked in and won’t run. A few of our styles are printed with metallic inks, silver and gold. These add a just a subtle hint of shine when the light hits the wall just right.

Each color of ink is carefully matched at the mixing station. Rebecca sends snips of hand-painted color chips or fabric scraps for them to match. The workroom is filled with buckets of specially mixed colors. Every color in a design is printed with one screen. So, if a pattern has three colors, it is printed with three different screens, one for each color. Each color is printed individually, staggering every other repeat placement so that the ink has time to dry before coming back to fill in the repeat. Otherwise, the wet ink would get on the screen and print where you didn’t want it.

As you can tell, it takes a lot of careful, time-consuming work to hand screen print our screen-printed wallpaper. Because it is done by hand it will be slightly different and unique each time. Our wallpapers are designed to add coziness to your home with a beautiful layer of pattern. We are always here if you need suggestions, and swatches can be ordered below.

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