Block Printing

Just rounding up some answers to questions I have been asked in the past. Hope the tips help. :)

How to buy basic blocks
(these are companies I have purchased from, there are dozens of others on ebay and Etsy. Search for textile stamps, wood block print, or pottery stamps)

Charan Creations
Quick shipping with nice designs, ships from Canada

Blockwallah and their website
Take a little longer to ship. Have many custom designs you won’t find elsewhere, often with a Scandinavian design style. Their big assortments of imperfect blocks are a great way to get a selection of stamps and hard to see any imperfections.

Black Leaf Art
Shipping from India. Have a very nice selection

Fair Trade, US shipper, tends to have a nice selection of small stamps

Print Block Stamps
Ships from Texas. Has some unusual designs, good sales, and often have larger (5-8”) stamps for really good prices

Ships from India. Very large selection of stamps in addition to trims and notions. Have a nice selection of large round designs

Buy custom blocks (again, these are companies I have purchased from)

Black Leaf Art
Really quick turnover. Shipping from India. Just give them your image and they’ll carve it for you

Ekaterina Savelyeva
Ekaterina is an incredible artist living in Moscow who makes block printed textiles as well as whole Norse outfits with applique and other forms of decoration. Her husband carves her blocks. She often sells the stamps as well. These aren’t exactly custom, as she is the one who decides what patterns she does, but they are all well researched historic patterns. The language barrier isn’t too bad, but remember you are dealing with an individual, not a company. It is going to take awhile to get these stamps and there will be a lot of conversation, but so very, very worth it.

Buy things that aren’t woodblocks
Large rubberstamps work well, Foam stamps are some of my favorites as well.

Make your own quickly for basic shapes, use by kids, or one time use

You can cut shapes from craft foam sheets (which often comes sticky backed) and stick the shapes on scrap wood backing. Here’s one tutorial, but there are many others. They be cut with scissors, rather than a knife, if being done by children. 

Carve your own (with little to no carving experience)

If you have never carved, linoleum blocks are the perfect place to start. There are also linocut materials that are easier than that. I tend to buy via Amazon, but most art supply stores will carry a selection of linocut supplies

Sax Safe n EZ Printmaker’s Rubber Blocks are one of my favorite easy to carve substances. You will probably want to mount larger blocks on scrap wood so they aren’t floppy but small pieces can be used as is.

Speedball’s Speedy-Cut easy is also decent for beginners. I don’t like it that much because it is rather crumbly, but I know people who like it.

Speedball’s Speedy-Carve works a bit better and doesn’t have the crumbling problem, and takes a finer line than the Sax Safe n EZ but does degrade over time.

Speedball linoleum blocks (mounted or unmounted) are also easy to find. They are a bit harder to carve than the speedy stuff, but still easy

Carve your own (with a little more carving experience)

If you don’t carve too deeply, birch plywood makes an easily obtainable carving medium.

Basswood blocks can be purchased at most craft stores and allow for easier carving of deeper designs because of their softness and lack of grain.

Woodcarving stores will carry hardwoods like pear and maple. You want a fine grained wood. I like to go drool at Treeline and WoodCraft

Further info

There is a new but flourishing Facebook group called Printed Textiles in the Middle Ages that I highly recommend. There are postings of class notes, extant examples, and currently printing artisans work. 

I would also suggest Viscountess Morrigan's page. She has quite a few tutorials and class notes available on her page
Adventures in Block Printing

Countess Brigit of Atlantia also does some gorgeous block printing. Hers tends to be mixed with fabric painting without blocks. I have some of her class notes as well. Her page at B-Brilliant Decorative Painting isn't quite as focused as Morrigan's, but she is super helpful and willing to help. Some of her projects can be seen here.

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