Sustainability and manufacturing
Satin is a weaving technique that creates a smooth and lustrous surface. The technique requires long, fine fibers and a smooth yarn to weave with, and cotton of that quality is difficult to obtain.
Almost half of the cotton used by Svenskt Tenn in its production is organic. Our French supplier buys organic cotton from Turkey. Yarn and weaving processes take place in France as well as dying and printing.
It’s hard to find quality cretonne and satin in organic cotton, but we do all that we can to get our suppliers to invest in these. Our French supplier buys cretonne from Turkey, Central Asia and Spain. Yarn and weaving processes take place in France, as well as dying and printing. Satin cotton is purchased in Egypt. Yarn and weaving processes in this case take place in Switzerland, while the fabric is dyed and printed in France. We also have an English supplier that purchases conventional cotton from Pakistan and dyes and prints the fabric in England.
Screen printing is a printing technique in which a fill blade is moved across a screen stencil, forcing ink or dye through the mesh openings. But before you reach this stage you have to produce the stencils.
The first step is to scan the original pattern in a computer and separate the colours. In a multistage process the pattern is then transferred onto a stencil. Each colour requires a separate stencil. For example, Josef Frank’s pattern “Hawaii” is printed in seven different colours, and because each core of the pattern has to have two stencils, a total of 14 stencils have to be made.
You can print with two different methods, either by moving the frames or by moving the fabric. Svenskt Tenn's suppliers use both of these techniques.
The printing table upon which Svenskt Tenn’s fabrics are printed is 60 metres long. Here one colour is printed at a time, for each core, so that the dye has time to dry before the rest of the cores are filled in. Nowadays a robot takes care of the hard work of moving the heavy frame, but nevertheless, two people are required, one on each side of the frame, to pour in dye and to control the process.
When the printing is finished, it is time to fixate the dyes under heat. Surplus dye must be rinsed off and the fabric has to be re-stretched. Before the fabric is ready for delivery, it is inspected manually. Stencil printing on textiles has a long history. The printing method was employed thousands of years ago in Egypt, China and Greece, where the “open” sections of the stencil let dye through. Stencils were made by leather, greased paper or metal. In order to fix them during printing, they were fastened with thread of silk or hair, which sometimes appear on old prints like thin lines between the stencils.
The next step of the development was to stretch a weave of silk onto a wooden frame and then fasten the stencils directly on the weave. The technique spread from China and Japan throughout Asia and arrived in Europe in the 18th century. It was frequently used for printing exclusive wallpaper on linen or silk. The first photo-based method was introduced in the early 20th century in the United States and revolutionised the technique. William Morris, who inspired many of Josef Frank’s patterns, is one of many designers and artists who have worked with screen printing. Louise Bourgeois, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol are others.
Sustainability in focus
Read more about Svenskt Tenn's Sustainability Philosophy below.