Process

Draw. Carve. Ink. Print. Repeat.

DrawBegin carveCarving toolsCarve detailApply inkPress / printFalling for Michigan finished in black and gold

Blockprinting isn't quite a lost art, but it is an old one. The greatest compliment is to be asked, "Are these woodblocks?" No, they aren't -- but I apply the same process. I carve linoleum, a hard surface that's friendlier to my tools and hands than wood is.

My artists' tools include a set of Flexcut woodcarving gouges and chisels, several ink rollers called brayers, a wooden spoon to press the ink onto a surface, and a hand-cranked dual-roller press for larger blocks. My media are Battleship Gray artists' linoleum that I paint red for greater contrast and blockprinting ink. I almost always use black ink by tradition, though I enjoy dabbling with colored and especially gold ink on occasion. My inks are water-based -- a gift to my lungs, since my studio is small. I print onto a variety of papers and onto cotton fabric.

Linocut prints are considered multiple-originals as works of art. I begin with my own drawing, carve the image into a block of linoleum, roll ink onto the block, and press paper onto the block one piece at a time, resulting in a print. Each print is slightly different, due to ink saturation and chatter pickup (background flecks). Blockprints are considered original art because each is printed by hand and is slightly unique. They are often confused with reproductions -- digital copies of original art. My only reproductions are my greeting cards and vinyl stickers.

While making new prints gives me the most joy, I discovered that people have more 'art confidence' purchasing usable items for their homes than they have purchasing wall art. I happily delved into textiles, and I make pillowcovers stuffed with large feather pillows, tea-stained cotton napkins I sew myself, and table runners -- all hand printed with my blocks.

block-printing fabric

100% cotton is block-printed by hand in large pieces

fabric drying

Ink is water-based, but is color-fast after several days; also heat-set

tea-staining

White cotton napkins are tea-stained with black tea (think 'pre-stained')

pillowcovers air-drying

tea dye sets for several days before textiles are laundered

hand-ripped paper

papers are Strathmore, Stonehenge, and Tiziano; some of which are ripped to size

printing tools

wooden spoon and brayer for small prints

multiple originals

prints are hand-printed, numbered, and signed in limited editions

linoleum blocks

carved tropical leaf designs ready to mount on wood blocks

press

cherished tool from the Portable Printing Press Company for larger works


#1 helper

chauffeur, repairman, hired muscle, biggest fan