Block Printing/Design

My First Block Printed Repeating Pattern

May 22, 2015

I’ve been dying to get back into block printing as it’s been quite awhile since my last project. I originally planned to do at least one block printed garment every month, starting in March, but I haven’t been making it a priority. Anyways, I’m back with some more block printing! I have to say, I’m unbelievably chuffed with how this came out. Yesterday evening was one of those situations where I picked up the block and said: I’m going to carve and print something RIGHT NOW or else I’ll keep putting it aside for “the weekend” and then another two months will fly by. Needless to say, I had no real plans for what I was doing. I grabbed the nearest writing utensil I could find and just started drawing shapes.


After I had some stuff drawn and carved on my block, I found the first decent sized chunk of solid colored fabric I had laying around to print on. I didn’t even bother ironing it because this was strictly supposed to be a “I just have to block print SOMETHING to get it out of my system” kind of project. Well, that was a mistake because it actually turned out pretty awesome!


The black Bic pen that happened to be the closest writing utensil I could find, also ended up being a mistake because the pen ink was coming off along with the white ink I started with. It all worked out in the end though because I like the contrast of the dark grey ink on the blue fabric better. I didn’t even bother washing the white ink off the plate, I just mixed some black ink in on top of it and kept going.


I’ve been studying a lot of 1950s Mid-Century Modern design books lately so I hope some of that influence rings through in this print. I chose a half-drop repeat layout (which was a popular design layout in the 50s as I’m learning) and roughly lined everything up.


I didn’t bother to go with the grain of my fabric since the point was just to simply print something for the joy of printing and not really make anything usable or “cool”. Well, I’m starting to find out that block prints never really look completely awful because the style of block printing is so primitive and simple looking in itself and that’s totally the point. No matter what you do, carving anything onto a block and printing it is bound to look pretty cool in my opinion.


So to summarize: I still LOVE block printing. I love it. I need to make an effort to do it more. I love everything about it. I love the process. I love the smell of the oil based ink and the sound it makes when you roll it out. I love learning about the history of block printing. I love the fact that I can design something without the use of the computer, and I love that it doesn’t take much to make something. I even love block printing when I make a lot of mistakes.


Note to Self: Bic pens are not the best tool for drawing on your block (really, I should have guessed that). Also, treat every project like it might be a success, that way you won’t end up with a print you really love that’s completely off grain on un-ironed fabric. BUT! All of that aside, this is still going to make one pretty cool throw pillow (or maybe a bag?), which I’ll be sure to share once my fabric cures 🙂

Sooooo yeah, add Block Printer to the list of things I want to be when I grow up…