Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Block Printing

A few months ago I took a block printing class from Valori Wells of The Stitchin' Post.  It was one of the best classes I've ever taken.  And it was online!  She taught us from her home studio over two sessions.  I got so much out of this class I've joined a small group of women from my area who were in the same class.  We meet every month or so online to share what we've been carving and printing.

Of course, I'm printing mostly on fabric, which is what Valori teaches.  But the same principals can be applied to paper.  I'm slowly building a "block library", trying to make focal point images as well as border images and overall background images.

I'll be posting more about this in the future but here's a start.

You may be asking yourself, "What is a cucumber doing in a block printing post?".  The answer is that I shot this in the summer just when my cucumbers were starting to ripen!

This is printed on an old Eileen Fisher linen sheet that I used to practice.  The main image is Amabie.  An ancient Japanese yokai,;creatures, monsters and fairies from Japanese folklore.  Amabie is said to help protect against epidemics.  I've been printing her lots lately!

I wanted strong graphic prints for borders and backgrounds.

This garment is made using the indigo fabric I made in Japan last year, plus some other pieces I have made since.  It's a very simple, no-waste pattern.  When you put that much time into making the cloth you don't want to cut out much!

Detail of the panel I hand stitched onto the front

You can catch a glimpse of Amabie peaking out from the sleeve on the back view.

Close up of Amabie, a mermaid with three legs and long flowing hair.

When RBG passed away I felt compelled to do something and this is what emerged.  I've printed dozens of these and given them to friends.

I tried printing on paper for the first time with paper my husband Joe made.

I also tried printing on scraps of cloth I'd previously dyed.  I would use a darker ink next time.

Little RBG pieces of hope.

Then I went wild on the old EF sheet.  I kept practicing and practicing till I had enough cloth to make Linda Lee's Cottage Shirt.  I struggle with the collar on this pattern and this time just omitted it. 

I love this pattern so much.  I'm going to try another collar technique next time.  Her instructions for the collar on this pattern are just too darned hard for me.

Amabie shows up a lot in my work these days.

I continue to carve and print.  Some work better than others, it's the learning curve.  But I'm signed up for more classes with other teachers and will continue to incorporate this technique into my surface design.

It's election day here in the US and I'm trying everything I can to avoid thinking about it.  Next up, Apple Butter, which will keep me over the stove for 4 hours...that should do it!



  1. OMG, your stamps are beautiful. Love the blouse and the RBG stamp. Looks like it kept you busy, anything to not have to watch what was going on in the US,however the drama looks like it continues.

    One more more creative thing to put on my bucket list. Thanks Gail

    1. Thanks so much. Give it a try, it's kinda addictive! And so versatile!

  2. Wow, such beautiful colours and tops. I could almost wish I had the same inclination and gift to do it myself. Thank you for sharing.

  3. The end result of your indigo fabric making is stunning. And your block printing is inspiring!

  4. Great post! Can't wait for the next one.

    1. Thank you Darcy, I'll try to keep them coming!

  5. This is utterly thrilling! You continue to be an inspiration. I love everything you've done. The shirts are amazing and RBG is perfection.

    1. Thank you Barbara. You are always so encouraging!

  6. I have been wanting to try carving stamps. I really like what you have carved.
    Can you share what pattern you used for the top made with your Japanese dyed fabric?
    Thank you for the inspiration.

    1. For sure try Valori Wells online class for beginners. It's inexpensive and so good! I drafted that pattern from a garment I own but this pattern is very similar. https://shopwiksten.com/products/womens-modern-shift-dress-top-sewing-pattern.

      Thank you for stopping by!


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