A Fabric Fabrik Reportagefotografie LIK Akademie für Foto und Design

Stephanie Klaura is an artist and a screen printer. She owns and operates a screen printing studio, Fabric Fabrik, built into an old Wiener beisl on Koppstrasse in Vienna's sixteenth district. Her studio is far removed from a t-shirt print shop or a garage project, but encompasses the entire ground floor of the erstwhile restaurant (bar intact) – think Doctor Frankenstein's Laboratory (or Saw) meets Wiener gemütlichkeit.

Screen printing is equal parts designing, cleaning, spraying, blasting, mixing, printing, drying and folding. Stephanie does her printing on a massive scale, often completely by herself.

Stephanie (Stephka) hails from Burgenland and studied at MAK, which was where she was introduced to screen printing. She does commissioned works and exhibitions, printing everything from gallery pieces to custom projects and readymades like bags, pillows, blankets, chairs and fabric by the metre, and even offers workshops for rowdy children.

But what is screen printing?

First and foremost,

screen printing is complex.

Screen printing is a process by which paint, ink or dye is strained through a screen onto textiles, ceramics, plastics, wood, paper glass or metal.

It begins with a screen.

Stephanie hand-draws all of her designs and then duplicates them digitally. Many of the designs are repeating patterns of abstract shapes like the image above, but she has also done text, logos and little boats. Stephanie reproduces the designs on synthetic polymer screens (where the 'screen' part of 'screen printing' comes from) that strain paint onto the target material.

Stephanie applies the light-sensitive polymer to prepare a screen for a design.

A design is transferred to the screen via a light-sensitive polymer. The design is placed in front of the screen and blasted with ultraviolet light to 'expose' the design onto the screen like a photographic negative.

Stephanie blasts the screen with an enormous ultraviolet light. This part of the process usually necessitates resetting the fuse box.

After the screen has been exposed, the excess polymer is washed away, revealing the negative of the pattern. The dark parts of this pattern will block paint from straining through the screen, leaving a negative of this design on the fabric. The screen must then be placed in the darkroom to dry and for the pattern to set.

Stephanie washes away the excess polymer, revealing a negative of the pattern.
The enormous screen is them moved to the darkroom to set. Screen printing on this scale is equally as bizarre and beautiful as it complex

Then there's the pigment.

Stephanie mixes the desired colours from pigments based on a complex bank of colour combinations and formulas. Depending on the complexity of the design, several layers of different stencils and colours can be applied to the target material.

While the screen sets Stephanie mixes paint in old yogurt tubs. She does not eat yogurt, but her interns do.

Once the screen is finished and the paint is prepared, the screen it is laid into a frame on an enormous printing table. The frame is locked down on the fabric and the paint is blobbed onto the screen in the desired pattern to be applied to the target material.

For this print, Stephanie uses three colours.

And then she prints.

She pushes an enormous steel squeegee across the screen to filter the paint through onto the fabric. The paint will not pass through where the design is dark.

After the paint has been applied, levers release the frame and it is lifted, moved along the fabric another metre, and refastened over a new area to repeat the pattern. The entire process can last over a period of minutes or hours depending on the size of the project, the complexity of the design and the target material.

When the printing is completed, the material is then dried, folded, and shipped.

A photo story by Kaleb Warnock.

Created By
Kaleb Warnock


Photos by Kaleb Warnock

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