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DIY Block Printing: The Customized Tea Towel and More


DIY Block Printing: The Customized Tea Towel and More

December 23, 2013

I’ve had some experience dyeing and weaving textiles, but the idea of carving stamps and block printing has always intimidated me. Then Izabella showed us Arielle Alasko’s hand-blocked upholstery and three fabric printing techniques; it was time to give a new craft a try.

Using a DIY kit from Darby Smart (a new SF company that partners with designers and craftspeople), I tried out the Fabric Block Printing Kit by illustrator and designer Danielle Broder, which was inspired by John Robshaw prints and traditional printing techniques. Have a look at what I came up with (at home no less)–and consider trying block printing yourself.

Finished Product

Above: My just-completed cotton tea towel; the kit comes with two tea towels and a burlap table runner to block print. Original photography shot with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III digital SLR. The filmmaker’s camera.


Above: The Fabric Block Printing Kit includes the essentials for making your first block-printed projects, including a Speedball linoleum carver, rubber brayer, acrylic sheet, six block printing ink colors, rubber stamp for carving, and detailed instructions; $69 from Darby Smart. 


Steps 1 and 2: Draw your design onto the rubber stamp pad–you can either cover the entire block with a repeating pattern, or draw a single pattern, as I did above. Then, using the lino carver, carve out the design–this isn’t tricky if you keep your design simple and follow Danielle Broder’s advice: begin with the smallest carving bit and then more on to the larger one. 

Step 3: Select a single color or mix your own on the kit’s acrylic sheet; here I’ve mixed equal parts white and black to create a black-gray with some depth. Then, using the rubber brayer, roll out the ink to mix your color and coat the brayer evenly.

Step 4: After you’ve rolled the brayer across the surface of your carved stamp, begin printing the fabric.

Step 5: Replicate the pattern across the fabric as desired, rolling the ink across your stamp in between each stamping. Don’t worry if your print doesn’t take perfectly during the first round; you can fill it in using ink and a paintbrush. 

Step 6: The ink will be dry to the touch in about 10 to 15 minutes, but I let it dry on a clothes hanger overnight just to be sure. Set the ink with an iron by either placing a towel or rag over the top and ironing the front, or by ironing the back of the tea towel.

Darby Smart sells a wide range of DIY crafts kits (membership is required but free); check out Michelle’s DIY Lanterns to Light Up the Night.

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