For the many years man has been making fabrics, he too has
been dyeing fabrics. The process,
relatively simple, depending on the method, and over the years hundreds of
methods have been developed. Each one
solving a need or bettering the first.
As such, so too has printing. Think of printing as localized dyeing. Designs are applied to a fabric through
varied printing processes. Printing most
common to Steven Giles selections are:
BLOCK PRINTING is the oldest form. Designs are carved into wooden, linoleum or
copper blocks, and separate blocks made for each color in the design. This hand blocked (printed) operation is very
tedious, production is very low, cost tend to be rather high. But the finished product is truly an artisan
DISCHARGE PRINTING is used to print medium to dark colored
fabrics with white or colored design.
After the fabric has been piece dyed, the color in specific areas is
bleached out removing the ground color.
The fabric is then direct-printed with the design. Any design and color can be used; however the
bleach process may weaken the fabric.
DIRECT PRINTING (roller calender or cylinder) is a process
where white ground fabrics are fed into a machine to pass through color rollers
etched with the design. This process is
the same way common for newspaper printing.
The design is somewhat limited to traditional patterns and a relatively
small repeat size.
DIGITAL PRINTING for textiles started in the late 1980’s as
a possible replacement for screen printing.
Described as any ink jet-based method of printing designs and color on
fabric. Design is processed by a
computer, and then printed directly on to the fabric. Digital, while improving, is yet to replicate
the depth of color provided by older methods, and economies currently favor
other forms of printing for larger minimums, however small runs are relatively
cheaper with digital.