crafts maker painting projects

M A K E :: Adventures in Block Printing & Hand-Stamped Towels

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Every year, I end up making a good portion of my Christmas gifts for my family. This year was no exception! My gifts usually involve jewelry, photography, or paintings, but this year I decided to try something new. This was a foray back into making block prints out of linoleum, which I haven’t done since middle school. I remember carving a leopard or some other big cat into a block of linoleum in my seventh grade art class. That was over 13 years ago, but something about the linoleum that cut as easily as butter and the beautiful textures of hand-cut stamps stuck with me.

I’ve been seeing loads of beautiful geometric and tribal block printed tees, pillows, and towels in stores and on Pinterest. I decided to start in the world of block printing with something simple: flour sack towels. I’m of the opinion that you can never have enough dish towels! I made the first round of towels for my sister-in-law and for my parents. My sister-in-law collects stars and pigs, and my parents love all things involving chickens. I made some corn and tractor prints, too, because I knew my Dad would love them.

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Materials needed: linoleum cutter, linoleum blocks, block printing brayer (or roller), fabric paint (or block printing ink), and blank flour sack towels. (Note: the best flour sack towels come from farm stores like Feldmans, Orscheln, and Bomgaars, but since we’re not embroidering or stitching, cheaper ones from Target and Walmart will work, too!)

I didn’t take photos in process, but here are the basic steps:
Step 1 :: Wash & dry your towels or fabric.
Step 2 :: Draw your design on the linoleum blocks, using pen. Keep in mind that your design will be reversed when stamping!
Step 3 :: Cut out stamp using linoleum cutter. (Mine is a basic speedball from Hobby Lobby.)
Step 4 :: Test stamp using regular acrylic paint on paper before using it on your fabric. Adjust/clean up design as needed.
Step 5 :: Paint ink or fabric paint onto stamp, and place facedown on fabric. Roll with brayer, pressing firmly and evenly. Be careful of pressing too hard. You want your design to be crisp.
Step 6 :: Peel away and enjoy your design, repeating as necessary.
Step 7 :: Allow paint to dry and launder according to directions on your paint or ink bottle.BlogPicks1-19

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Here’s a closeup of the chicken design – this is after the towel had been used to dry some dishes! I love how the design is somewhat imperfect and uneven – somewhat of a hallmark of hand-printed items.

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Tractors for my Dad, testing out an alternating color pattern. BlogPicks1-27

I did the corn design with two colors. I loved how it turned out – but it was much more time consuming!

Stay tuned for more block-printing ideas and projects! I can’t wait to try this out in other ways.

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