Tuesday, 22 November 2011

box set edition

Every year at East London Printmakers, we make an edition of about 50 prints (42 this year), which we then divide into boxes with sets of one of each of the 42 members' prints in each box.  Here is how I made my edition of 50 prints...

I decided to make a linocut and print it at home.  I made a two-colour print - the background is a blend of red and yellow, and the foreground is a landscape of a churchyard (based on a photograph I'd taken).  The prints hanging in the window are test prints (not the final edition).

We just moved house in October, hence the stripped walls in the background of this photo.  I'm printing at the table and hanging the prints from a clothes horse to dry.

I printed the lino using a baren (a flat disc designed for printing by rubbing the back of paper on top of an inked block), but you could use a wooden spoon.  Two handy hints I learned from Nick Morley for printing with a baren: put some greaseproof paper under the baren to stop the paper from moving as you rub the back of it and also to prevent scuffing the paper with the baren; then, 'lock' your elbow to make a strong straight forearm to rub the print with pressure.  It's impossible to reproduce the effect of a press when transferring the ink by rubbing the back of the paper by hand, but I got some decent (though varied) prints among the edition of 50!

Monday, 10 October 2011

shell block prints

Last week I printed some more of my shell-design block print fabric, to use in making a clutch purse.

The small area of printed fabric on the right, I printed about 2 years ago, then the new green area is the first layer of my recent printing, with the lino block for this first colour sitting on the fabric next to its printed mirror image.

On the back of the lino block I have marked an arrow so that I can see which end is the top when printing, and two small lines halfway up the block because I want to print this design as a half drop design, where each block starts halfway down from the top of the previous image.  I just line up the marks with the top of the image next to the one I'm printing.  The half drop provides a more flowing pattern than if I repeated the images side by side.

I have a blanket on the table so that the fabric absorbs the ink when pressed, and it doesn't bleed out of the sides of the block due to the fabric being pressed against a hard surface.  Then I'm printing the block by rolling textile ink onto the lino with a foam roller and just applying pressure with my hands to the back of the block.  Results of printing by hand pressure can vary with different fabrics - it's a matter of trial and error for me - but it prints well on this pure linen fabric.

After printing the green layer, I printed a pink layer and finally a brown layer from a block cut to define the outlines of the shell shapes.  I separated the three colours of my original design, and use a different piece of lino for each one.

Monday, 26 September 2011

making bags

I started a 12-week course about sewing bags 2 weeks ago, at Morley College in Waterloo, because I want to make the fabric that I print into small bags and pouches. Here are some sketches for bag designs that I drew in the last class:

I'm going to use material that I printed previously.  Here are 2 photos of a make-up bag that I made 2 years ago, using fabric that I printed with an autumn leaves design, using screenprinting and discharge binder to print the lighter mustardy colour of the leaves onto the dark blue linen.

I only made two of these pouches 2 years ago - one for myself and one for my mum.  Now I'm doing this bag-sewing course to learn to sew and finish the projects properly.  I just taught myself how to make this make-up pouch, using a pattern from the internet, and although it came out well, you can see that the zip insert and the lining could be done more beautifully.

I also have some of this block-printed shell-pattern fabric left (not as much as in the photo) that I printed 2 years ago, and sewed up into a simple tote bag as a present for a friend:

I have used up almost all of both the autumn leaves and the shell fabric, so I need to print some more to make into the new bags.  The shell print is simpler to make, as I can do it at home with the lino blocks, so I will start with that first of all, and hope to make up some lovely professionally finshed bags soon!

Friday, 2 September 2011

tobias and the angel

Last June (2010) I went on a great block printing one-day workshop at Tobias and the Angel's workshop in Surrey.  They have a massive range of print blocks which they purchased from Yately industries for the disabled, and they now use to print their own hand block-printed cloth and products, and to teach workshops with.

On the day, the workshop participants chose a dye colour and we were shown how to brush it onto a felt-topped dye pad, stamp the block onto the dye-pad and print it on the cloth using a mallet to hit the back of the block with pressure.

We also used a weight on the fabric, to start printing at one edge of the fabric and move it away from us as we printed, ensuring the inky area wasn't touching the printer and the fabric didn't slip off the table.

The blocks I used had repeat designs that connected end to end, and I was shown how to mitre the pattern at the corners using a folded piece of paper to block off the print in the correct place in the corner.

I really recommend a workshop at Tobias and the Angel.  I was very satisfied with the print I made and the learning process, and the workshop is in beautiful surroundings with inspiring equipment and people.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

printing on fabric with flocked lino

I experimented with glueing flocking powder onto a lino block and printing onto fabric with it.
The reason was to get a stronger print because the flocked surface should hold more textile ink than the smooth lino surface.
You can buy ready-flocked lino for textile printing, e.g. from heart-educational.co.uk, and I have tried printing with this. The problem with it is that it is difficult to carve the flocked lino with a lino-cutter. If you cut out solid shapes with this flocked lino it prints well, but it's hard to carve lines or detail into.
That's why I thought I'd apply flocking powder to a block that had already been carved.
William Morris used to apply velvet flock to the large areas of his wooden printing blocks, and when I went on a one-day block-printing workshop at Tobias and the Angel a couple of years ago, we used lino blocks coated with wool-flock, and these printed well.

I used an old lino block that I carved a while ago as an example for a card-printing workshop. First I rolled textile ink on it and printed it without the flocking powder, so I could compare the difference later of prints with and without the flocking powder.

I applied PVA glue to the block with a foam roller then shook flocking powder onto the block through a sieve, and left it to dry.
Then I inked up the block in the usual way I do for fabric printing - by rolling textile ink on it with a foam roller. I printed the block just by applying pressure onto the back of the block with my hand.

The result... Well, it didn't work very well! In the above photo the bottom half of the fabric shows the prints with the flocked block (and the top half shows just the inked-lino prints). The flocked block did print a stronger image but lost some of the detail of the carving (the flocking powder had filled in the crevices), or if I pressed more lightly it just didn't print well.
Plus because I'd just used PVA glue to adhere the flock, when I washed the block the flocking powder and glue washed off as well as the ink, because PVA is water-soluable.

I'd like to try it again though, as there was some more intensity with the flocked lino block. Next time I'll use a waterproof glue, and apply a thinner coverage of the flocking powder to try to avoid losing some of the detail of the carving.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

dreams exhibition in the Freud Museum

Here are my 'Flying and falling curtains' in situ, in the Freud Museum, north-west London.

Monday, 21 February 2011

dreams exhibition

I have been making a piece for an East London Printmakers' group exhibition, 'Dreams', which will be at the Freud  Museum from next Thursday 3rd March.  My contribution is 'Flying and Falling Curtains' - block printed and screen printed figures, embroidered onto lightweight muslin fabric and hung as curtains in the museum.

I printed the block print lotus design by cutting my design out of a piece of lino, rolling some textile ink onto the lino using a foam roller so that the ink doesn't slide off the lino (as it would with a hard roller and runny ink), then just pressing the lino face-down onto the fabric.  I used different tones of pink for the lotus prints on flying figues and overlapped the flower images.

After I'd printed the figures, I embroidered them onto the muslin with a sewing machine - I embroidered an outline all around the flying figures in gold thread, and the falling figures (on other curtain, not pictured) are embroidered around with outlines in red thread.  See the East London Printmakers website for more details of this group exhibition.