Many of you have probably found our blog via the Artisan Handprints website. We want to let you know our process and show a little about what we do. Here are some photos of our warehouse and print production and a short explanation of how your wallpaper is made.
Relativity Textiles is a designer that is just starting out and came to us to produce her first ever wallpaper. We received the art in the form of a scanned artwork. Although we usually prefer to have print-ready artwork, there are times when we will be able to accomodate requests to take a hand drawn image or painting and make it into a vector file.
The image is now ready to send off for film positives to be made. We outsource our films to make sure that the quality and registration is consistent with industry standard. They actually use a camera to shoot the films in a darkroom and they come back like large (inverse) negatives for making our images on the screen.
Meanwhile, we’re stretching screens.
The designer has ordered her paper to arrive to our warehouse and our colorist has mixed her colors, according to her spec sheet.
The screen is coated with light sensitive emulsion.
Once the emulsion is dry, we turn on our exposure unit, register the image on the table to the screen and “burn” the image.
The magic happens when you wash the screen out. Anywhere the light has hit the emulsion and the film was clear has hardened and created a stencil. Anywhere the opaque black lines were, the light could not penetrate, leaving the emulsion viscous and thus, it will be removed from the screen mesh with warm water.
You can hardly tell, but the screen now has an opening similar to these patterns, another designer’s screens. These are dry and taped and ready to go to print production.
The screen is attached to our automated table with clamps. The printer uses a dust print as his initial marks and prints several prints onto the “leader”. This is scrap paper that helps pull the good paper into the oven.
Our ovens dry the ink so that the paper can roll up onto itself without stamping the back side of the paper. In the olden days, we used to print on long tables. It took as much time to tape the paper down to get ready to print 100 rolls as it does for Ziggy or Chester to print 50 rolls of paper on the automated press!
The paper is often skip printed (which I promise to explain in another post with a diagram!) so that the wet prints don’t touch one another. This method is used for patterns that “puzzle piece” or fit together with tight joins in motifs.
This pattern, Kilim, is skip printed. It takes double the time and labor to skip print a design. It’s almost as easy to print a two color print as it is to print one color, skipped.
Once the paper is dry and finished printing, it is trimmed and re-wound to the beginning. An inspector, like Richard, will look for imperfections in the print, anything missing or marks, dust, etc. He trims off waste and also measures tight 10 yard rolls.
He then wraps each individual designer’s label on the roll and shrink wraps them. Some of our designers inventory their papers in our warehouse and some have them shipped on huge palates to a fulfillment center.
The finished product is always completely transformed once it’s installed in a space. Wallpaper gives an amazing warmth, character and life to any room. It’s a wonder why we don’t have more wallpaper in our own homes!