What is Silk Screening?

What is a multi-billion dollar business today can be traced as far back as 9000BC when stencils were used to decorate Greek mosaics and Egyptian tombs. Today it is known as silk screen printing or serigraphing. From t-shirts, to coffee mugs and snowboard graphics, images can be printed on almost anything thanks to silk screening. When the success of a company or organization depends on promotion and advertisement, it’s not hard to see why this art form is so important today. Yet how much do you know about serigraphing? Turns out there is a whole process and rich history to this art form. Workman’s Friend appreciates this history and created a product that works like a protective glove and provides quicker clean-up for the printers who continue to silk screen print today. Applying our Barrier Skin Cream prior to the printing process provides protection and hydration to the skin when working then makes clean up quick and easy.

What is it?

Silkscreen printing is a stenciling method. It is the process by which you print ink through stencils. Barrier Skin Cream can be applied prior to working with this ink to cover hands with an invisible layer of protection that prevents the ink from soaking into and staining skin. The stencils that the ink is printed through are supported by a porous fabric mesh (originally silk) over a screen. It is used for producing bold and graphic designs. As a result it has become one of the most popular printing techniques used by companies when printing designs onto products including T-shirts, tote bags, paper, wood, ceramics to name just a few.

How is it Done?

In its simplest form, the ink is forced through a stencil onto a piece of paper with a squeegee. This is what is known as ‘pulling’. Each color with a maximum of 4 must be printed in the same spot and order on every product. The first step in the printing process is creating an original or initial image. Then the screen printer creates a separate stencil for each color. Every one of the stencils is then adhered to its own screen. The screen printer applies the ink across the printing frame which has been placed above a sheet of paper that will retain the art. The ink is then forced through the screen and onto the paper below. This exact process is repeated on all sheets of the edition and then the stencil is destroyed. As the printer works through each of these steps, Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream continues to protect hands as they get splattered with ink. Once the stencil is destroyed, the printer and can quickly wipe or wash off their hands without having to spend time scrubbing ink off. The Barrier Skin Cream works like a protective glove and shields the skin while also moisturizing throughout the entire process of the printing job.

What are the Benefits?

Even though its unique craftsmanship is revered silk screening has become increasingly more modern. The traditional tools and processes are not practiced as much and are being replaced by machinery that enables its users to obtain a superfine quality. However there remain several advantages to using silk screening. For one it has an excellent quality to price ratio for large print jobs. There is superb color reproduction while being extremely durable and resistant to fading from regular washings. Regardless of a printer choosing to use traditional or modern methods, Workman’s Friend protects and moisturizes hands through the entire process while making clean up easy.

Industry professionals recommend silk screening for designs that require a maximum of 4 colors. Simple graphic designs including logos and phrases are ideal for silk screening. But for shorter print jobs or more complex printouts such as photographs digital printing is recommended.

One More Image

From balloons, clothing, and decals, to signs, displays and snowboard graphics, silk screen printing can be found everywhere today. What began as a way to decorate Egyptian tombs has evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry. Workman’s Friend is there to provide the printers of today added protection and convenience that historical silk screen printers did not have. The next time you buy a t-shirt with a graphic on it think about the process and effort it took to make it. Now you know the artistry it took to create it.


Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream is a light-weight and odorless lotion perfect for all silk screen artists. A simple application of our moisturizing, non-greasy formula means you can get your hands messy. Once you're done, a quick wash will make your hands clean with no traces of ink.

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