Block Printing on Fabric

It took me quite a while to find out how to do block prints on fabric properly. It wasn't until I just asked a fellow Etsy seller how she had such good results on her tee shirts. Turned out I was using the wrong kind of roller and ink...that simple.

The trick is using a foam roller, and the ink that I was recommended is Jacquard Textile/Fabric ink. The typical fabric screen printing ink smudged and slid all over the place. The fabric ink lays down very nicely and leaves a rough transfer of the image, which looks cool and very handmade.

Process: I rolled the ink onto by block print design, then flipped it over on top of my fabric. In this case, I was printing on organic cotton and bamboo blend dinner napkins. I applied pressure to the block using a few scrap pieces of wood. I pressed as hard as I could for about ten seconds to achieve a good transfer. Here's a few pics of my morning printing session. Enjoy, and good luck with yours!


Linocut Printing on a Ceramics Slab Roller

I've finally moved on from transferring my linocut prints with a wooden spoon. Fair well dreaded spoon!

I've been blessed to have a family member recently invest in my business, and offer to buy a press for me. Awesome, right?!!  In my typical frugal fashion, I wanted the best bang for my (his) buck. The traditional etching presses range from $1,500 upwards to $5,000 or more depending on size and bells and whistles. Tons of researching, pondering and thinking....then one day at work I realized my solution was right in front of me the whole time! I could use a ceramics slab roller to make my prints. 

Ceramics slab roller.

I tried a few test runs on the studio slab roller, and voila, it actually worked pretty well. I mean, it's really just consistent pressure that transfers the ink to the paper. 

With this new idea, I started researching some companies that manufactured ceramic slab rollers, and came across Bailey's Pottery Equipment. The owner emailed me back about my inquiry, and we got the ball rolling. He suggested having the rollers custom made as smooth, and not textured, as they typically are for the ceramics slab rollers. This would alleviate having a textured pattern on my paper to deal with.

I also get a whopping 30 inches in width that will enable me to do larger prints. The smaller, more expensive presses have a much smaller width in roller size. The final cost for the custom slab roller was around $700. Lumber and hardware for the table-top bed, was about $20.

Reasons for getting this press:
  • Cost - Around $700 with shipping included. Well within my donors budget
  • Size - Width up to 30"
  • New Work - My wheels are spinning with ideas for new work by using this press. Large prints, drink coasters, textile printing (?)
  • Challenge - I love a project, especially re-purposing something old or new.
  • Teaching - My thought was by doing this, I can help other lino/woodcut printers get an affordable press that works for this medium.
** The rollers are not machined to a perfect roundness. I believe this setup will be great for lino and wood cuts, but probably would not be precise enough for other kind of printmaking.

Enjoy the following photos that followed my progress. Message me if you have any questions. Thanks!

Woohoo! Boxes arrived on my doorstep.
Unpacking it.
Pretty simple setup. Just need to screw on the handle and done.
Put all together on my work bench. Now thinking about how to do the table-top press bed.
Heavy duty gearing.
The Bailey company.
Bought composite board from Lowes for the press bed.
Cutting  2x4 framing for the press bed.
Framed out, ready for the tops.

All put together on the feeding side.
Now to decide how high I want the press bed in comparison to the rollers.
I decided that about 1/8" of roller above the bed would be fine.
I had some help from my friend with a fancy table saw
to make a bevel on the edges that butt up to the rollers.
Checking height and clearance on typical block.
I simply raised the whole press by using five washers to give it just a little height above the bed.
You can see here the washers on bottom left that raised the press above the bed.
The rollers now stick up above the bed ever so slightly...about 1/8".

Here is the beveled edge hugging the roller.
Adjusted, engineered and finished! Ready for test printing!

This is my setup or sending the block through the rollers. In order.....a masonite board on bottom; my linocut block; my paper to print on; a rubber printers blanket bought on Ebay; and finally a piece of wool blanket. Works great!
My first test prints. Only took three tries to achieve a near perfect relief print.
Simply had to adjust the pressure just right.
A happy surprise. Finally achieved enough pressure to make drink coasters.
Will be filling up my shop with these very soon!

Etsy Goal for 2012

Well, I had set a goal for myself in 2012 that I wanted to make 100 sales. I thought that was kind of lofty thinking at the time, but I actually surpassed it by Christmas time. Online shopping over Thanksgiving was very good for my shop. I'm also convinced that the more art I have available, the more activity (views, treasuries, sales, etc.) happens in the Etsy shop. I've got to set a new goal for this year, but not sure what this is right now. I'd like it not to be a monetary goal, but more of a "self growth as an artist" kind of goal.

I think my new printing press being delivered soon will determine my new goal for this year. More on that soon!


Our Wedding got published!

Check out our wedding story!

A Completely New Direction

Wow, it's been months since I've written a blog post. Lots of things have been happening...

We're pregnant, and expecting our baby boy any day now!

Life has been really fast and crazy the past few months. I quit my 9-5 marketing design job in September and began working with Heather in her ceramics studio, Element Ceramics. She needed big-time help at the studio after losing her assistant. We had been talking about bringing me on board for a long time, and the opportunity presented itself. We crunched some numbers, planned a lot and made the leap. Now with the baby coming, it will also be great that we can have him at the studio with us during the day. If I kept my old job, it would have been extremely tough on us with our schedules.

We started off with a big studio move from the Wedge building to Depot Street in the River Arts District. Heather was displaced from her old studio, and had to make a move. The new studio is great, and the work flow is much better than the old one.

It's been quite an adjustment for both of us. I've worked in corporate marketing design offices for more than 15 years, so not having a set schedule has been challenging and wonderful at the same time. Also very difficult for Heather, as she has the added pressure for being the main support for our family.

I bring some varied skills to the studio, and help out with some of the basic clay work like rolling slabs, wedging, etc. Shipping and customer relations are a big part of my job, and my marketing/graphics experience will help grow the business as well. I still continue to pursue my printmaking and graphic design in the off-hours when I can.

Life has changed a lot lately. Our baby boy will change it up again soon.
Very excited for what 2013 will bring I will bring to 2013!

Here are some recent studio photos by our favorite photographer, Jameykay Young.


Moleskine Cahier Little Notebook Prints

Here's my first Moleskine little notebook print. I've been wanting to do these for quite a while, and finally ordered some from Amazon to try out some prints. I love the cardboard'ish cover and stitching on these; a nice handmade quality about them, and the company has quite a long history in Europe which is cool.

Ordered a set of three, and only one of them came out perfectly. I pressed too hard with my hand on the linocut stamp and the ink squished too much. I'll order some more and get these up on the shop soon. Also thinking of other little prints I can do...bikes, to-do-list, thought bubbles, etc.

Photographing Prints for Etsy

I decided to try something new with my Etsy shop photos lately. In researching some of my favorite sellers' shops, and seeing what gets selected for front page features, I tried to go with a brighter and cleaner look for my prints. I took some photos of a blank picture frame on a white, crumbly brick wall in my wife's studio. Now, when I make a new block print, I simply take a straight-on photograph of it, and then I can place it on the blank picture frame using Photoshop. The best part is that I can change the color of the print with a click of the mouse, and that offers the customer more color choices without having to pull the actual print until ordered.

This new process saves me a lot of time and headache with trying to get the lighting consistent in the dingy, spider-laden basement studio. I will still take some basic photos (closeups, angles, etc.) of the actual print to accompany this front page shot, so when you click through the listing, you can see alternative views of the print and know what you're buying.

Likes: Bright, clean and consistent...front page worthy
Dis: The black frames are messing with my eyes. Going to get some wooden frames at Ikea this weekend and try those.

What do you think of these new ways to display my prints?


 The old look; very dark and masculine. Not working for me.