'Early Bird', colour screen print

'Early Bird', colour screen print

'Early Bird'
Colour screen print
Sylvia Priestly
Made by John Line & Sons Ltd.
Width 54.6 cm x height 75 cm
Museum no. E.887-1978


The pattern is a half drop pillar repeat. The repeat is made by placing each unit half-way down the next unit. The pattern units consist of a bird and also a stripe decorated with seven or eight circles. There are two pattern units each of which is a bird posed horizontally, facing right, or posed vertically, facing left. Each pattern unit or bird is placed half-way down the circles in the other’s stripe. The half drop repeat is perhaps the most usual of all the repeat systems. This type of repeat is used a lot in the wallpaper industry. This is because the arrangement of the repeats helps to make the pattern seem wider so that it appears to cover a surface easily. 

Processes and Techniques

This printed design is a colour screen print. This type of print is made by using a stencil. The principle of the stencil process is that the paper which is to receive the design has the areas which are to remain blank protected from the printing ink. The stencil protects areas to remain blank from the printing ink. In colour screen printing, the stencil is fixed to a fine mesh of silk, man-made fibre or steel, known as the screen. The screen is stretched over an open frame. The ink is pushed across its surface by a flexible blade called a ‘squeegee’ and forced through the holes where the printing surface is not protected on to the paper below. A separate screen is required for each colour of the finished print. 

The Designer

Sylvia Priestley was the daughter of J.B. Priestley, the author. She studied at the Slade School of Art and at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, both of which are in London. She designed textiles and wallpapers and worked for the textile manufacturers Jacqmar Ltd, and Warner & Sons. She made ‘Early Bird’ for the wallpaper manufacturers, John Line & Sons Ltd for their series ‘Limited Editions 1951.’ This wallpaper was produced in various colour combinations which are known as ‘colourways’ in the wallpaper industry.

This image can be found in Print Room Box 7.