09 September 2012

Getting Some Ink

No, not that kind of ink. I'm not getting a tat...until I have my mid-life crisis. I'm talking about ink handblock printing.

Long before we moved into our new house, I fell in love with these pillow shams from Rickshaw Design

 "Handblocked printed textiles for your bohemian life"...
Bohemian life- Don't I wish! 

A lot of other people must have loved them too because they were out of stock forever, during which time I decided I'd just make my own. I'd always wanted to try handblock printing-- Easy enough, right???

So, I ordered a printing starter kit from Amazon.  It comes with a sample carving block, linoleum cutter with several SHARP tips (i.e. probably should have gotten a couple of stitches in my finger), a brayer, black ink and an ink tray. 

After reading the reviews warning that the linoleum was REALLY hard, I also purchased a couple of additional linoleum blocks that were much softer and easier to cut.

I also bought some fabric paint.

The fabric paint makes the shams washable... except... for the ribbons.

If you're going to DIY, skip this step. I made the mistake of sewing my own pillow shams so that I could (1) justify purchasing my sewing machine; and (2) add ribbon ties on the back like in the Rickshaw photo above. Totally unnecessary step. And...oops, I added the ribbons before I block printed on the shams. See extra prep work/masking tape photo below. And the ribbons frayed at the ends, which required another step- (cue: mess) adding fabric glue. Buy shams instead.

Back to the ink block printing though... I practiced drawing an elephant on paper first and went ahead with my Sharpie and drew it on the soft linoleum block. Then I started carving. The kit comes with a number of tips, so I alternated tips based on whether I was carving a large area or a smaller, highly detailed section.

Using a small paint brush, I added paint to the carved ink block so that I was able to get the perfect look for the ink -- faint in some places and darker in others where the ink was heavier.

And here's the finished product:

Certainly not perfect and far from Rickshaw Design quality. But I guess that I can take pride in the fact that it wasn't a total DIY-Disaster!

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