Block Printing/Design

When life gives you lemons, make hacked credit card art…

May 28, 2015

I have another sewing project to share soon, but since I left off on the topic of fabric/surface design I thought now would be a good time to squeeze in another design project and a bit of a book review. The wonderful people at Quarto Publishing sent me a copy of Playing with Surface Design, by Courtney Cerruti, and I wanted to share a little something I made using one of the techniques featured in the book. It’s a technique that involves painting with pieces of plastic that people use to store money on. More on that notion in a second…


So the thing I like most about this book is how Courtney wrote it with a focus on stepping away from the digital age of design and getting back in touch with the roots of traditional printmaking, but in a really fun, fluid, and fuss-free way. That’s exactly the kind of art I want to make right now! As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been studying 1950s surface design lately, especially the mid-century modern mavens of the era like Lucienne Day. As soon as I saw her 1959 Maquis print (shown above), I knew I wanted to try and recreate my own version of it.


The credit card painting technique, as featured in Playing with Surface Design, caught my attention for two reasons: 1.) The bold uniform rectangles, so easily achieved with the use of the card, would be perfect for recreating Lucienne’s Maquis print, and 2.) There was a fraudulent charge made with my debit card over Memorial Day weekend so I just so happened to have a locked-down, discontinued piece of plastic that I was eager to cut up, haha! Uhhggg… so not actually funny but when life gives you hacker lemons you make credit card lemonade art, right? Don’t worry, everything should be fine and refunded soon (at least that’s what I keep telling myself).

But I digress!


I used some basic acrylic craft paint and just went for it with no real plan. That’s the beauty of a project like this, it feels really good to just lay down thick strips of paint. Very therapeutic! Especially after my bank called me Tuesday morning to let me know there was a suspicious purchase, my account had been locked, and I’d be needing a new bank card. Yes, very therapeutic after that!


After I got a bunch of therapeutic rectangles down in my sketch book I started in with some black paint and a smaller brush in order recreate the sketchy mid-century arboreal motifs like Lucienne is known for. SO much fun to do!


Aside from the credit card painting (which I’m really excited to do more of), Playing With Surface Design is chock full of project ideas for all kinds of different surface design including stamping, block printing, marbling, watercoloring, and using gelatin and paste paper for prints.


The focus of the book is creating surface designs in a fuss-free, at-home sort of way, like I mentioned. The techniques shown are meant to be repeated in a pattern or cover large areas for gifts, paper crafts, and the like. I was really just playing around in my sketch book this time, but now that I’ve practiced the look I really do want to recreate it again in a larger scale on a more permanent surface. As suggested in the book, I might try painting on a lamp shade or framed canvas next.


I also liked the artist profiles included in the book, featuring several well-known names in the industry like Lisa Congdon – a fine artist who now has a fabric collection with Cloud 9!


I think this book would be great for someone who’s new to surface pattern design since a lot of the techniques and project ideas were very approachable for beginners. I also thought a few of the projects, like marbling and making gelatin prints, would be great for someone who’s looking for an art project that’s a bit more involved, or just wanting to branch out from more basic methods. There are large, beautiful photos with so many colors and I really enjoyed flipping through it and saying “Oooo that looks cool! I should try that…”


Thank you, Quarto Publishing, for sending me a copy of Playing with Surface Design! I can’t wait to try (and share!) more credit card art in the future. …and thanks to fraudulent debit card hackers for giving me a reason to cut up my bank card?? I guess?

Laugh at life’s curve balls, then make some art and feel better. That was the bigger lesson I learned through this book review 😉