Block Printing 101

Posted by on Mar 16, 2017 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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Recently when I was delivering this artwork to a show, someone asked me how I had made it. Like the artist pack rat that I am, I replied, “Oh, it’s a collage from prints that I found in my studio.” Those of you who are artists yourselves know exactly what I am referring to. That trove of random samples, cast offs and art boo-boos that collect in bins, boxes and bags around your house. It was to this art pickers’ paradise that I went to a couple weeks ago, looking for help with an art quilt that I was working on.

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I found my collection of print blocks. What is shown here are mostly the smaller ones. I have another bin for larger vinyl blocks. After perusing the assortment, I decided that some of these would do, but that I really needed to make a couple more! Plus I wanted to try out a printing ink that I had never used before.

The following is a mini tutorial of vinyl block prints that may inspire some of you to try this yourself.

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The product I am using is a ‘vinyl’ block or sheet that is sold by many brand names such as “Soft-Kut.” Years ago it replaced the harder to carve battleship gray linoleum for many artists. It is a great product for small, simple designs. It is similar to a vinyl eraser, only in larger slabs. Once I’ve sketched a design on it (in reverse), I use carving tools to eliminate everything that I don’t want to print.

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As you can see the Speedball printing ink I’m using is for fabric as well as paper. I had never tried this particular type before and it is almost like oil-based ink, but washes up with soap and water. My other items are brayers (rollers) and a baking pan as a inking plate.

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Here’s a really sexy picture! Keep a bin of water nearby as you work. Whenever you are done with a print block or a brayer, just throw it in the water and it will make cleanup easier later!

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Because I was printing on fabric, I needed a little cushioning underneath my block prints. This printing board was made out of a scrap of foam core with thin batting spray-glued on top. (You can use felt if you don’t have any thin batting.) I’ve got my block prints and the fabric pieces I want to print on ready as well.

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Now you can see what the brayer is for. I’ve rolled some ink out into an even layer. and then rolled it onto the block print.

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The block print is placed face down and pressed into the fabric. Some excess ink may seep through the fabric, but the printing board collects it.

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Take the print block off and you have your print.  If you have a scrap piece of fabric or paper you can print the remaining ink off the block to create a faint ‘ghost’ image.

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Here’s the water bin again with its growing collection of items waiting for cleanup. By the way the semi-clear block at the top of the picture is a Gelli plate. It will be featured in my next blog post.

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Now it’s time to sing the Barney Cleanup Song! Use your brayer to roll away the ink with the water as you sing.

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So here are some of the prints I came up with. And below is their audition on my quilt.

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Guess what! I never did use any of my prints on this particular quilt. I decided it didn’t need anything after all.

I think by now you know where these prints will be going: into a bin, only to emerge for another project in the future!

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Diane Brandt
    March 16, 2017

    Your talent and knowledge just amazes me!

    Reply
    • Sharon Wall
      March 16, 2017

      Thanks Diane!

      Reply

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