DIY Tea Towel Tutorial

IMG_20160719_142420 (4)

Tea towels…we all need them, we all use them, why not make them beautiful? But then this is about more than just tea towels. The stamps that I created for this project are ridiculously easy to make and the patterns (although they look complex) are not at all hard to pull off. REALLY! So, you could stamp away at pillow covers, scarves, tote bags, zippered pouches, you name it!

I was inspired to make these when the amazing Jemma Wildermuth of CReATE STUDIO (www.createstudiofun.com) asked me to teach a class of some sort. Since one of the major components of CReATE STUDIO is recycled and reused materials and since I’m totally down with that concept, I wanted to add an eco-conscious element to this project. So I scrounged and salvaged as much as possible to make my stamps.

Tutorial

Materials:

  • cotton tea towels or whatever your heart desires
  • wood shapes
  • scrap craft foam, foam shapes, rubber bands, wine corks, etc..
  • VersaCraft ink pad in real black
  • Permaset Aqua fabric ink in jet black (optional)
  • iron to heat set

Step 1: Wash your tea towels (or whatever fabric you’re using) before you begin stamping. This is particularly important for fabric that will shrink – like tea towels!

Step 2: Be certain to protect whatever surface you’re working on and be sure to try out your stamps on a scrap piece of fabric before you begin stamping on your tea towel. Honestly, I don’t always do this because I like to live dangerously, but you really should. 🙂

There are so many options for creating stamps! If you’re a newbie, I would recommend copying mine or using mine as a springboard until you get the hang of it. Then branch out and do your own thing!

Okay people, this is literally a 3 x 3 inch piece of wood (leftover from an indigo shibori project) that I wrapped with dollar store rubber bands. I then inked it up with my VersaCraft ink pad and stamped away turning as I went. So easy and so cool!

For this one, I simply cut some scrap craft foam into circles and hot glued them to wooden circles. As you can see, I wasn’t even super careful about cutting out my circles – which I think made the print more interesting! I mean just look at that awesome print!

This one was a tad more complex but still ridiculously easy considering the result! I used another 3 x 3 piece of leftover wood and then hot glued foam shapes to create a pattern. I stole these foam shapes from my daughter’s stash of art materials, but you could just as easily cut them out. The only shape that I altered was the square in the center. I then inked my stamp and began stamping being careful to turn it and line up the “like” sides to create a pattern.

Apparently I forgot to photograph this one before I inked it up?! But once again, it’s super simple. I hot glued craft foam in diagonal strips onto a 3 x 3 inch piece of wood. The amazingly cute pattern happens when you align your stamp with the same sized lines as you move along.

I wanted to cram multiple techniques onto one tea towel to demo them, but I’m very happy with the overall result. You could most certainly do an all over design with any one of these stamps and it would be gorgeous!

IMG_20160719_141832 (2)

Speaking of all over designs…I was so enamored with the circles that I decided to devote an entire tea towel to them. I used the two circle stamps above and I added a few more.

I hot glued craft foam to three wood circles. I used a ball point pen to draw concentric circles on two of them and I left the third one blank. Interestingly, the blank circle ended up transferring the pattern that the hot glue made under the foam (the print in the center on the bottom row above). This was unexpected, but I liked it. To get a completely solid circle in a few spots I inked up a plain wooden circle.

IMG_20160701_134748 (1)

IMG_20160701_140237
The diamond shape in several of the circles was from the pattern on the Bounty paper towels that I had placed under my tea towel!

IMG_20160719_141605 (2)

Voila! This is the finished towel. I think it’s lovely. It’s a bit off kilter in spots because my stamping wasn’t perfectly straight and because the fabric isn’t perfectly square but that doesn’t bother me one bit. The only caveat is that this baby was time consuming! If you’re making it as a gift, you should definitely bear that in mind.

Last but not least, I wanted to experiment with slightly larger scale stamps and I wanted to try using screen printing ink rather than the VersaCraft ink pad.

IMG_20160720_114422

This stamp was made by linking four equally sized diamonds to form a shape. Once again I glued the craft foam to the wood with some hot glue and I inked my stamp with the Permaset Aqua. This method was a bit messier than the ink pad but it worked fine. In order to get an even layer of ink on my stamp I first put some ink onto a piece of plexi (any hard, flat, non-porous surface will do) and I rolled out a thin, even layer with my foam brayer. I then rolled the ink onto my stamp and pressed it firmly onto my fabric being careful to lift straight up when I removed my stamp. Once again this was super simple to create but it looks complex.

Last but not least, I joined the diamond shaped pattern and I made the little border at the bottom with a wine cork.

IMG_20160721_131741

IMG_20160718_145531

The next pattern was made with a wood shape that I found at Michaels. I attached craft foam to one side, rolled on my ink and stamped away. This one went quickly and because the wood shape was thicker, it was really easy to press onto and lift off of the fabric.

IMG_20160721_131911 (1)

The last stamp for this project was created to act as a bridge between the two patterns above. I cut the diamond shapes out of some trusty dollar store craft foam, drew the lines with a ball point pen and hot glued them to a rectangular piece of wood (sound familiar?).

IMG_20160719_141936 (1)

Another graphic, modern piece of functional art for your home! There really is something so lovely about picking up and using a tea towel that you made or that was made for you by someone you love. I almost always pause and think about that fact when I use these and it makes me smile. Not to mention how much style these little babies add to my kitchen.

Step 3: Allow your fabric to air dry for 24 hours and then heat set it with an iron on the highest setting for 3-5 minutes. I generally put a cloth or some paper towels between my iron and the fabric, but that’s probably not totally necessary.

IMG_20160719_142420 (4)

SO Cute, right?! I have to say that I’m kind of in love with the black and white thing. The screen printing ink left a bit more texture on the fabric than the ink pad, but both inks worked well.

I know I’ve said it ad nauseam but these stamps really are RIDICULOUSLY easy! And for the last time, the patterns that you can achieve with such simple designs are amazing!!!!! And once you have your stamps you can use them again and again on a wide variety of things!

Check out the flyer for this class here. If you’re in the vicinity, I would love to meet you!

Memory Scarf

 

IMG_20160531_185131

Ciao lovely readers! The idea for this scarf came about following my daughter’s performance in a play. To be clear, my little one was Tinkerbell in her school’s second grade play and she received an armful of flowers after her performance (which was awesome – but then I’m obviously totally unbiased). At some point, I looked at my baby girl and I said, “Why don’t we make a scarf out of those flowers? That way we can always remember them and your play.” She was totally game! 

There were some silver dollar eucalyptus in the mix, which I knew would dye well but other than that I had no clue what would and wouldn’t work.

We let the flowers dry out for a week or so before we got started.

IMG_20160612_132030

My kiddo picked out a narrow longish silk charmeuse scarf (the Dharma Trading site where I purchased it calls this a belt but it actually makes a cute narrow scarf). 

First we wet the fabric and then we laid it flat. We folded it in half to find the middle and then arranged some flowers and leaves on one half of the scarf. This is important because the second half will then be laid on top which will sandwich the plant material and give you a similar print on either side of the scarf. Capeesh?

IMG_20160612_131935

Also important is that we laid the scarf out on top of a length of paper towels.

The flowers and leaves that I could identify are silver dollar eucalyptus, rose petals, and chamomile. The hot pink flower running down the center is unknown to me.

IMG_20160612_133221

Next, we put a stick at one end and we rolled everything up including the paper towels. I like to use them as a barrier between the layers so that the leaves and flowers print more clearly.

IMG_20160612_133300

The next step is to tie it up into a bundle. We used artificial sinew but twine or white dental floss would work equally well.

We put our bundle into my dedicated dye pot to steam.

IMG_20160612_134418

After about two hours of steaming, we took it out and it occurred to me that we would most certainly need to use a mordant of some kind to “fix” the plant dye into the fabric. Although some plant materials like eucalyptus are what is referred to as “substantive” and don’t require a mordant, most are not in this category. So since I had some homemade iron mordant (vinegar and super fine steel wool left in a jar for approximately one week) on hand I poured a few tablespoons of that into my pot, gave it a stir, put the bundle in, brought it to a low simmer, turned the heat down and let it go for an hour or so. An alternative to the iron mordant would be to add approximately one tablespoon of alum.

We pulled out our bundle and took a look. Bear in mind that the fabric is wet so the colors are darker than they will be when the fabric dries.

IMG_20160612_174045IMG_20160612_174232

Here are some close ups.

At this point, we both felt like the scarf could use a bit more color and pattern and since we still had a ton of plant material we did another layer that mostly consisted of leaves of unknown origin.

IMG_20160612_175307

We rolled it up again but this time we skipped the paper towels and we put it straight back into the iron mordant bath. We turned on the heat and let it go for about an hour and then turned off the heat and forgot about it for about 3 or 4 hours. At that point, we pulled it out and let the bundle sit overnight. Some folks who dye using this method let their pieces go for a week or more, but we were too impatient for that.

Here it is when we first unrolled it. I’m honestly not sure how much round two added to the design?  But, and this is a big but, my daughter loves it! Now we have the memory of the event permanently on fabric and we have the memory of making the scarf! 🙂 So lovely.

IMG_20160613_100452

Finally, we hung the scarf outside to dry and ironed it.

In conclusion, it seems to me that the eucalyptus really did the heavy lifting here. The other plant material added a bit of texture and color and the iron mordant definitely added some grey bits here and there. The eucalyptus left some fairly defined prints but it’s really the gorgeous shades of orange and rust and peach that are the most striking. The other leaves didn’t leave distinct shapes behind. Perhaps a much longer sit would have made a significant difference. I also noticed that the steaming method seemed to do a better job of transferring the color into the fiber. So in addition to a wonderful memory with my daughter, I learned a thing or two. Win, win!!!

Here’s my girl modeling her new treasure. Bellissimo! 🙂 🙂 🙂

IMG_20160613_190629

“Mud Cloth” Pillow with Inktense

IMG_20160529_131409 (1)

Hey there! So I picked up some Jaquard No Flow when I was at a “real deal” art supply store the other day and I was curious to see how it would perform. According to the label you’re supposed to paint it onto the entire surface of your fabric and then voila you can paint with dye and it won’t run! Hmmmmm, I was a little skeptical but I was willing to give it a try. My plan was to paint on a mud cloth inspired design using naturally derived indigo.

IMG_20160526_130306 (1)

I decided to grab a white cotton canvas Ikea pillow case that I had laying around. Before painting the fabric with the No Flow, I put a piece of clear vinyl into the pillow case to prevent any bleed through.

The No Flow is really thick and it’s very difficult to see on white fabric. So I was super careful to make certain that I covered every square inch of my pillow case. I then put it outside to dry while I tended to my indigo vat.

I’m excited to (finally) be sharing a bit of info about indigo dyeing with y’all! I will definitely be doing more indigo tutorials in the near future. It’s one of my favorite dyes for a multitude of reasons. First, the color. I LOVE this color. It’s ancient and timeless and chic and classy and…sublime. Next, as a dye it’s super fun to work with. I use Pre-Reduced Indigo Crystals from Dharma Trading. This is naturally derived indigo that has been “reduced” to make it much faster and easier to work with than traditional indigo which is not water soluble and requires a series of time consuming steps to get into a workable form. My current indigo vat has been going for well over one year now. I simply add Thiox or Color Remover and/or indigo as needed to maintain it. I also love that the fabric comes out of the vat green in color and then turns blue as it oxidizes. It’s still fun for me to watch this process! Finally, I love that indigo works on protein fibers and plant based fibers and no mordant is required!

The only “con” that I can think of is that indigo can fade over time (like a pair of jeans), but that really doesn’t bother me all that much. 🙂

Although it may be difficult to see here, my vat is looking a bit grey blue and murky which tells me that it needs an addition of Thiox and indigo. Click here for instructions on how to tend to an indigo vat.

IMG_20160526_141908
Hello there! Can you see me and my phone in the indigo?

I’m adding 10-11 grams of indigo and Thiox.

Next, I gave my vat a good stir (first clockwise then counterclockwise). The bubbles that form on top are known as the “flower.”  This is a cap or crust that helps to keep oxygen out of your dye bath. You will need to remove it before you dye and then replace it when you are done.

IMG_20160526_143507 (1)

Since I’m not vat dyeing in this instance, I simply scooped up some of my dye and put it into a glass jar so that I could paint my pillowcase with it.

I decided to sketch out a design with a pencil before I began painting. As I mentioned, I was inspired by the designs in traditional African mud cloth.

IMG_20160526_145953

Here goes! Fingers crossed!

IMG_20160526_150515

Well, it mostly worked but there are definitely a few areas where the dye seems to be bleeding a bit. Perhaps a second coat of the No Flow would have done the trick?

IMG_20160526_152303

I don’t like how fuzzy my edges are! I was really hoping for crisp, clean edges! So, I decided to break out these:

This is my first time using the Fabric Fun Dye Sticks and my third or forth go with the Inktense Sticks. The Fabric Fun sticks are waxy and the intensity of color doesn’t match the Inktense. After some experimentation, the Inktense sticks took the win by a mile and I stopped using the Fabric Fun altogether.

IMG_20160526_154243IMG_20160526_155421IMG_20160526_164200

As you can see, I decided to change up my design as I moved along. The pencil lines will wash out, so no worries! The Inktense sticks are easy to draw with and when you go over them with water, they dissolve and become more intensely colored. According to the directions, they need to sit for 24 hours and then be heat set before the color is washable.

At this point, I noticed that in spite of my best efforts some of the indigo had bled through onto the back of my pillowcase. So I decided to go with the flow and brush indigo onto the entire backside.

IMG_20160526_170247

I set my pillowcase to dry and this is what I found the next day.

IMG_20160527_134339

Yikes! What’s up with that ugly yellow ring around my pillow? I’m thinking it’s from the indigo and I’m hoping that it washes out?! Regardless, I went ahead and heat set it for 1-3 minutes with my iron on the hottest setting.

Next, I washed my pillowcase in Synthrapol (which is a professional textile detergent – however, any mild detergent would be fine) and it took about four quick washes to get my water to run clear. When I pulled the pillowcase out of the water, the nasty yellow ring had disappeared! Yay!

IMG_20160527_135059

For some odd reason I didn’t take pictures at this  point. Argh! But suffice it to say that the wash water took away a good bit of my color even though I heat set everything?! Maybe this had to do with the No Flow? To remedy the situation, I went over all of my lines, first with Inktense and then with a water laden brush. I then gave the back another brush with some Indigo and I added a few black and blue lines with the Inktense for some interest.

IMG_20160527_144426IMG_20160527_141147

The pillow case is wet in both of the pictures above. so the colors are most certainly darker than they will ultimately be, but I’m liking what I see. 🙂

After 24 hours I ironed my fabric on high heat for about 5 minutes.

IMG_20160528_141859

Here it is before it was washed.

IMG_20160528_142232

My fingers are crossed that the color holds fast this time. I’m really starting to think that the No Flow interfered with the Inktense because my lines are much more clear and saturated this time.

IMG_20160529_131409 (1)

Okay, so I lost a little color in the wash, but not bad. I can’t decide if I like the black that bled out around the edges of the lines. On the one hand it gives it a bit of dimension…on the other it looks a bit smudgy. 😦  As for the No Flow it was a “no go” on this one! Perhaps it was my fabric choice or the indigo? My experience tells me that it may work best on silk with silk paints so I’m willing to give it another try at some point. In the end, this was more about the Inktense sticks than the No Flow or even the indigo.

Please feel free to share your thoughts or your experiences with any of these products! 🙂

 

Easy Peasy Ikea Pillow Cover Hack

IMG_20160510_163828

Hello dear readers! I saw this pin on Pinterest and it inspired me to create this easy peasy, totally fabulous pillow cover. I was recently at my (not so local) Ikea store and I picked up a few of these pillow covers.

IMG_20160510_120724

I love the color and I love the fabric, which looks like linen but according to the package is made from ramie. What the heck is ramie? I did a little research and here’s what I found on this site:

Despite the shroud of mystery surrounding it, especially in the US market, ramie is evidently one of the oldest fibers cultivated for textiles. Commonly called China Grass, it is grown and used mainly in southern and eastern Asia (with some production in Brazil). Only a small percentage of the overall production seems to be exported for use in Euro/America. Ramie fibers are naturally white, which reduces the need for bleaching, but in order to be used in textiles, they require extensive processing, including de-gumming. The fibers are also very strong and—like linen—improve in strength when wet with very little shrinkage.

Interesting! It has a lovely hand and honestly I would not have known that it wasn’t linen if I hadn’t read the package. Anyways, it was a great starting point, but it was definitely crying out for some color and pattern. When I saw the pin for paper roll shape stamps that I mentioned above I thought, why not?

Materials:

Tutorial

Step 1: Grab and one of these:

IMG_20160510_170615

Then cut your paper towel roll holder in half (If you’re using a toilet paper roll holder, then you don’t need to cut it). I used a serrated knife thinking that I would get a cleaner cut and less squishing of the roll. The later was true, the first not so much. So I decided to use the nice, flat factory ends. Regardless, cutting it in half makes it more manageable to work with.

IMG_20160510_115135 (1)

Step 2: Manipulate your paper roll holder into whatever shape pleases you. I’m going for a squarish shape.

IMG_20160510_120509

Step 3: Put some paint or ink onto a flat surface and roll it out. I’m using a brayer, but a little paint roller would work fine. This is just to get your paint/ink into a nice thin layer so that you don’t blob too much paint onto your “stamp.”

IMG_20160510_115909

Step 4: Experiment on a scrap piece of fabric or even a paper towel until you find a pattern that you like.

IMG_20160510_120312

Step 5: Iron your pillow cover until it’s relatively flat. Then fold it in half and press it in both directions with your iron. This will give you your center point as well as vertical and horizontal lines to help guide you as you print.

IMG_20160510_122422

Step 6: Put a barrier of some sort between your fabric so that your paint doesn’t bleed through. I’m using a piece of clear vinyl, but aluminum foil would work fine.

Step 7: Gently pounce your stamp into your paint and begin stamping starting at your center point and working your way out.

IMG_20160510_125751

IMG_20160510_124559

About 3/4 of the way through I noticed that my “stamp” was looking a bit squished and my prints weren’t as sharp. So, I decided to use the other end of my paper towel roll to start anew.

IMG_20160510_130242

Maybe I was a little too assertive with my stamping? Or maybe you will need to do this too…so I would have the other half of your paper towel roll handy. If you’re using a toilet paper roll, I suppose that you could simply turn it over. 🙂

Here it is right after I finished printing:

IMG_20160510_130958

As you can see, I put some paper towels around the edges. This helps to keep things nice and tidy so that when I’m done printing I can simply pull out the paper towels and I don’t have to worry about getting paint on the underside of my pillow.  You can also see that the row of circles at the bottom isn’t perfectly straight. I’m not sure where things went a bit off kilter, but I’m totally okay with it. This is a handcrafted, hand printed item, so imperfections are part of what makes it beautiful.

Step 8: Allow your fabric to dry completely and then heat set it with an iron on the hottest setting for 1-3 minutes. I generally place a cloth between my fabric and my iron in order to protect my work of art.

Here it is, so great, right?! And SO EASY, this truly requires no artistic ability and in my humble opinion it’s so much cuter than the plain pillow cover. I love the combination of grey and orange and I really love how the paint is brighter in the spots where it went on a bit thicker – It definitely adds dimension and interest to this simple, modern pattern.

IMG_20160510_163828

 

 

Lotus Flower Stamp – Turning a Lemon into Lemonade!

IMG_20160503_133533 (2)

The block printing mania continues! In my last post I reviewed six carving blocks and I gave you my humble opinion regarding the pros and cons of each. In the course of this block carving odyssey, I tried out a linoleum block, which I hated. The carving was really difficult and the print (as you can see) was pretty bad.

IMG_20160428_090256 (2)

I was making this pillow case for my lovely niece Breanna who loves owls…and since I ran out of pillow cases and I couldn’t order more (because they’re on back order at Dharma Trading), I decided to try to salvage this one. My first step was to insert a piece of clear vinyl between my fabric (to prevent any bleed through). Then I set about to cover the whole thing with black ink.

IMG_20160503_112943 (2)

I initially tried to put the ink on with a little roller, but that didn’t work very well. I needed to roll over the same spots repeatedly and I seemed to be using a ton of ink. So, I grabbed one of my daubers (bottom left corner below) and I gave that a go. This worked much better!

IMG_20160503_113728

When I was finished, I set my pillow case outside to dry in the sun. Here it is, the color isn’t completely solid but I’m okay with that.

IMG_20160503_115038

Now it’s time to carve! After a little poking around on my niece’s Pinterest boards 🙂 I noticed that she has a thing for lotus flowers so I decided to incorporate them into my design.

But I digress…before the designing and carving bit you will need to work out the size of your carving block. In this case, since my pillow cover is 16 x 16 inches I decided to make my block 4 x 4 inches (using my favorite Soft-Kut blocks) so that I can get a nice pattern going. I first discovered the pattern making technique that I will be using when I saw Julie Balzer’s amazing pins on Pinterest. However, I soon realized that making patterns by assembling small pieces to form a whole goes WAY back to ancient times…like Mesopotamian mosaics and tile work. Not to mention quilt making which dates to ancient Egypt.

Now that you have your block cut and ready to go you will need to draw a grid – actually this isn’t mandatory but it will help you immensely when you’re drawing your design. Mind you, this is coming from someone who is all too happy to freehand something! However, soon after diving into this technique I realized that precision is super important when you’re trying to create a repeating pattern.

IMG_20160503_120225 (1)

Now it’s time for the fun part! I found a picture of a lotus flower that I used as a starting point…the rest I made up.

IMG_20160503_121825

Next, simply carve out all of your lines with your smallest carving tool. This will give you a little “moat” that will help you to stay in the lines when you begin to remove more material.

IMG_20160503_123337

Now you need to think about your positive and negative space or what you want to print and what you want to remain the background color. Grab a larger tool and begin carving the block to create your “negative”space (the color of your fabric).

 

IMG_20160503_131354

Pretty, right?! Next you will need to do a test print on paper with a regular ink pad. This is a super important step, so don’t skip it! This print will allow you to see your lines much more clearly and it will enable you to determine where you need to do a bit more carving. I always discover areas that need more carving when I do this…and I’m always excited to get an idea of how my design is coming together. 🙂

IMG_20160503_132209

After carving a bit more out here and there, this is my block.

IMG_20160503_133533 (2)

Next you will need to find the center of your fabric. I typically fold my fabric in half in both directions and I press it with an iron to get my center. However, since I already had my vinyl in place and since my fabric is black, it seemed easier to just mark off the center using a ruler and some white chalk.

IMG_20160504_102840

Alright so now for the printing part…I’m using Super Opaque White Ink by Versatex. I put the ink onto a piece of plexi that I picked up at Home Depot (you can use glass or any other hard, flat surface) and I rolled it out with my brayer. Please note that this ink is quite thick and the open time is short so it’s best to work quickly.

IMG_20160504_163949 (2)

Next, I rolled my ink onto my block with my brayer as smoothly and evenly as possible.

IMG_20160504_164032

I then lined up the top left corner of my block with the center of my pillow case and I carefully laid my inked block down. Be sure to press smoothly and evenly on the back side of your block. I have found that my fingers work just fine but some people use rollers or burnishers to get firmer pressure on their blocks. You can lift up a corner and take a peek at your print to make sure that your ink is transferring well. If it’s not, simply place it back down and apply more pressure.

When I got about seven blocks in, I started to notice a decline in my print quality. I think that the ink was starting to dry on the block so I cleaned it off before continuing.

IMG_20160504_104927

Once you have finished printing let your piece dry completely and heat set it for 1-3 minutes with an iron.

Here it is, what do you think? I like the white on black combo and I think that the design is cool but for a minute the lotus flowers looked like pot leaves…yikes! PLEASE tell me that I’m imagining things because that is NOT what I was going for!!!

IMG_20160506_171109

 

Which Carving Block is Best for Textiles?

IMG_20160428_085721 (2)

Hello! My block printing obsession continues…and in the process I have been trying to figure out which carving block I prefer. I have some very definite opinions, so I figured that I would share them and perhaps save y’all some time and money. 🙂

Block printing goes WAY back and it was originally done with wood. I carved and printed with wood blocks in college and it’s a tedious and painstaking process. Fortunately there are a multitude of options today that are much simpler and easier. So far, I have tried six materials. They each have their pros and cons but ultimately one product edged out the others.

Highly Recommended:

Soft-Kut Printing Blocks – These are my favorite blocks and here’s why. First, they cut like butter. Second, they’re thick enough to be carved on both sides. Third, I’m able to get fine details and good prints on fabric. Last, but not least, they are very reasonably priced.

The fact that they carve so easily is actually both a pro and a con in that you have to be very careful not to over shoot your lines. It’s quite easy to use a bit too much force and skid outside of your lines. This can be overcome with practice and a gentle touch. I have also found that holding my carving tool in a more horizontal plane in relation to the block gives me a bit more control. $1.70 for a 4 x 6″ block. Here are a few examples:

Conclusion: The combo of easy carving and value for your dollar makes this carving block a winner!

Recommended with Reservations:

Speedball Speedy Carve Blocks – For many folks this is their “go to” carving block. For me this block is just a bit too firm. Although the firm texture helps me to feel a bit more in control while carving, it’s also possible to over compensate and push too hard. Again, this is something that improves with practice. It’s easy to obtain fine details with this product, however, I have noticed that my prints aren’t quite as solid or “filled in” when I use these blocks on textiles. So, perhaps this material is better suited for use with paper? These babies are also on the pricey side which is another con in my book. $5.33 for a 4 x 6″ block.

Pink Pearl Eraser – I know that this is a bit off the beaten path…but these are wonderful to carve! They’re sturdy and they cut beautifully. They are a “just right” combination of soft and firm and they print crisply on fabric. I truly wish that they made these in larger sheets because I would be the first one in line! The biggest and really the only con is that the size of these “blocks” limits their usefulness.  63 cents for one eraser.

Speedball Speedy-Cut Carving Blocks – These blocks carve easily but the material is a bit crumbly. They print clearly on textiles. This product is on the more affordable side, so all in all it’s a decent option. $2.68 for a 4 x 5.5″ block.

Richeson Clear Carve Linoleum – The product information on these says that they carve like butter. Really??? Okay, maybe if your butter is frozen solid, but even then! While these are definitely easier to carve than traditional linoleum blocks, they are by no means easy. I really like that they are clear which allows for easy design transfer and block placement. However, the clear surface also makes it very difficult to see your carved lines and this product seems to grab onto the carving tools making smooth, even lines difficult to obtain. The print quality for these blocks isn’t great on fabric. That being said, I was able to get an interesting effect that I ended up liking a lot. $3.29 for a 4 x 6″ block.

Conclusion:  If I had my druthers, I would pick the pink pearl eraser, but since this isn’t a practical option for most block printing needs, the Speedy Carve Blocks get the silver medal.

Not Recommended:

Battleship Linoleum – Just don’t bother. It’s super hard to cut and the print quality on textiles is terrible. I dove in head first and carved the image below three days ago. It was a total waste of my time and my hand is still sore. 😦 $1.49 for a 4 x 6″ block.

So there’s my two cents on the matter of carving blocks for textiles! I hope that you found it helpful!