Sunday, December 11, 2016

Block printing!

As I mentioned a few days ago, back in early October I took a block printing workshop with the fabulous Lysa Flower.  In addition to being a VMQG member, Lysa is a graduate of the Emily Carr University of Art and Design and a working artist and fabric designer, and she gave us a jam-packed day to explore the joys and possibilities of block printing.   

We started with an introductory design exercise, in which each of us received a random card with some directives.  I think mine were something like "hexagons," "small scale," "random repeat," and "narrow spacing," and I came up with the block on the lower right.  Everyone did multiple test prints on construction paper, so that we all took home different samples that illustrated principles of scale and placement.

For our second block, Lysa introduced the class to methods for registration that involved drawing a basic design on paper, cutting the paper in half and taping it back together with the cut edges on the outside, adding more details, and then cutting again in the other direction and re-taping.  It sounds complicated when described, but is easier to understand with pictures, as in this online tutorial.  Leafy shapes are among the few non-geometrical objects that I can draw reasonably well, so I carved the block on the lower left.  Then, in the late afternoon, I had just barely enough time for a hexagonal design that I had in mind before the workshop.  I think it's an Islamic tiling pattern--I knew it would tessellate and make a great block for printing.

Here's how the fabrics printed with the second and third blocks turned out:

The Moo carve block that I worked with for the leafy print wasn't exactly square, so it didn't register as precisely as I would have liked.  I learned the hard way that the carving materials aren't cut all that carefully by the manufacturer!  I also decided that I prefer to work with the black Easy-Cut material.  The white, eraser-like stuff tends to be a bit more crumbly.  Although the black Easy-Cut is a little harder to carve, it allows for sharper lines, and I think it will hold up better in the long run.

I did a lot more block carving and experimenting in the weeks after the workshop.  More soon!

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