[Above, Elizabeth James's wood block collection.]
So, what has it been? More than seven years since John Robshaw appeared on Martha Stewart's show and demonstrated his block printing techniques? I remember recording the episode. But I guess it took nearly five years of sporadic blogging about block-printed fabric (traditional Indian and contemporary) to finally prompt me to purchase my own lone wood block from Elizabeth James, the founder of Pacific & Rose hand-blocked textiles.
Stacey Bradley's printing blocks and brayers are for fine art, not textile design, still Julia Lynn's recent photos of the tools further inspired me.
[Photo by Henry Wilson as seen in Selvedge, issue 24.]
[Image via Pacific & Rose.]
Feeling pleased with last year's DIY upholstered sawhorse desk, I'm now motivated to try my hand at a block-printed pillow, and although it will probably be February before the project is posted here, I have pulled some tips and resources from the archives. First, advice from Elizabeth:
1. Use a blockprinting ink. She describes it as very tacky and sticky but notes that a regular paint will seep into the crevices of the block. The blockprinting ink can be purchased at art supply stores, or a site for textile artists, like Dharma Trading.
2. Squeeze a little ink onto a flat surface, such as a tray, then roll a rubber brayer into the ink. Next, roll the brayer onto the block.
[Brayer via Dharma Trading.]
3. When placing the ink-covered block down on the fabric, try giving it a good thwack with a rubber mallet, to better transfer the ink. (See images of more tools here.)
[Image via The Zucchi Collection.]
John's suggestions can be found here. For general inspiration, visit The Zucchi Collection, home to 56,000 printing blocks used to produce handprinted fabric over the course of three centuries from 1785 to 1935.
And see these past posts: Woman Shops Globe, Seema's Studio, More Block Prints, and On the Borderline Again.
If you have any tips of your own, please share!