It’s no secret that I have an interest in fabric design. It’s something I’ve been studying and practicing in hope that one day I’ll have a pretty awesome portfolio to pitch. Though as much as I love digital design, I’ve had a real urge to step away from the computer lately. Not only to keep the tendinitis at bay, but also to create something a little more directly with my hands. I’m fascinated with some of the “old world” printing techniques still popular in India and Japan, so I decided to give block printing a shot.
I wanted to start with something small, so I bought the Speedball deluxe block printing kit for beginners and sketched out some ideas for a handmade Valentine. ‘Tis the season, after all.
The kit comes with both a traditional hard linoleum block, as well as one “Speedy-Carve” rubber-y block. I tried to carve the hard block first and realized immediately that my wrists wouldn’t hold up trying to work in that material, so I switched to the Speedy Carve. Let me tell you, that floppy pink block is FANTASTIC. I was able to work for hours without any pain or discomfort, and all of my lines still looked sharp. I already bought more for future projects.
My design was inspired by the 1948 Swedish greeting card I posted about last month and I’m super happy with the way it came out! I suppose my design was a bit ambitious for my first block print since high school (ten+ years ago), but I was pretty confident I could make it work, especially after watching a bunch of tutorials on YouTube and Vimeo. It’s funny how driving the lino cutter around the block reminded me so much of feeding fabric through my machine. It felt “right”.
I found the process of carving the block extremely satisfying. Once I started, I couldn’t stop!! I completely lost track of time, but I know I spent a good few hours just gouging out little chunks of pink.
I told myself I didn’t care if the block ended up being a complete failure because I was having so much fun with the process. It’s rare that I try something for the first time and feel an instant connection (usually I have to try something a few times before I can decide if I want to commit or give up and try something else – hence the reason I owned a guitar for about 3 months in high school, and why the running shoes I bought two summers ago still look brand new) but I definitely feel a connection with block printing. I’m hooked!
If you follow me on instagram you already saw the “live feed” yesterday from start to finish, but I enjoyed making the prints so much I had to blog about it too. I’m so excited to try printing on fabrics next! The Speedball kits only include the water soluble paper inks, so now I’m researching good oil based fabric inks that I can still use in a non-industrial setting (aka my kitchen).
I swear I type so much it feels like I forgot how to write. Oi. I need to work on my handwriting and my signature haha! Aside from me being overly critical of my work (I’m kind of notorious for that) I’m really, really pleased with how my Valentines turned out. I think the special friends and family in my life will enjoy getting them in the mail. …I’m definitely going to keep one for myself too 😉
Have you ever tried block printing before? A lot of people mentioned they haven’t had any experience with it outside of grade/high school either, and if that’s the case I highly recommend trying it again! I was surprised how affordable it was to get started, and how addicting it is to plan and carve a design.
MUST BLOCK PRINT ALL THE THINGS!!!!
p.s. If my prints have inspired you, you’ve got to check out Andrea Lauren’s print work. That woman is my new idol.