Kerry Cassill’s colorfully printed bedding is what first inspired by my love of Indian block printing so many moons ago. And then there was this film that so beautifully showed the true art that is block printing. The artisanship that goes into hand carving these woodblocks is raw and impressive – and it’s so refreshing to see that a craft that dates back centuries is still being practiced today. My fascination eventually grew into a collection of old woodblocks – some brought back from me from India and some purchased. But it wasn’t until recently that I finally tried my hand at block printing with them, specifically with a gorgeous heart-shaped block from one of my favorite boutiques Tail Of The Yak. It’ll never be comparable to the real thing, but I’m pretty darn happy with the results.
When block printing with wooden stamps, it’s important to work with a soft surface. This will ensure that all the tiny, little details from the woodblocks will make contact with your fabric or paper. Today, I’ll be showing you how to print on paper – however, you can easily use the same method using fabric. Start by laying down a thick piece of fabric. I’m using a striped fabric I just so happened to have in my craft closet. The stripes will help me serve as a guide when laying down my pattern. Don’t worry if you don’t have striped fabric – any thick fabric will do. Tape your paper to the fabric. Lay your woodblock in the lower right corner and measure it against the width of the paper. Space out the height of the block evenly along the width of the paper. Make little hash marks with your pencil.
Pour a good amount of screen printing ink onto a plate. Roll the brayer into the ink and roll it onto the woodblock. Make sure you’re not depositing too much ink, plugging up the small crevices with globs of ink.
Carefully turn the block over and place it onto the paper. Pound every part of the back of the block with your fist – but keep the block in place with your other hand so it doesn’t slide or budge. Gently lift the block away from the paper.
Keep working along the width of the paper, using your hash marks as a guide and re-inking the block before each application.
I wanted as little negative space as possible so I reversed the direction of the block on every other row. Once you’re done blocking, allow it to dry completely before erasing the hash marks.
Roll up your paper until you’re ready to use it to wrap a present or a book.
And there you have it! My next attempt will be to print on fabric – I’ll be sure to update you all on the process then. In the meantime, try this out and have fun!
(images by HonestlyWTF)