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, 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.


  1. Hi - thanks for posting this. I'm a printmaker looking to do some fabric printing using lino so it's all helpful advice. I did a workshop with textile ladies who printed onto calico with my ordinary lino with great success using hand rubbing, but that was with printing ink not fabric ink. I guess I need to have a play

  2. Hi Laura,

    Thanks for your comment, and sorry for my long overdue reply - I didn't think to check previous posts for comments until recently!

    I've found the think that helped most with printing lino onto fabric using fabric inks was to use a sponge roller rather than a hard roller, so the ink stays on the surface of the lino. It gives a slightly textured, spongy look to the print, but does transfer enough ink to give a satisfactory result with just pressure by hand.