Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Two Vintage Block Printing Projects

I purchased a pair of vintage printing blocks and some wooden printing letters several years ago purely for their decorative appeal. They have been sitting happily on my shelves ever since.

Lately I have come across so many beautiful pillows, fabrics and papers that have been printed with these types of printing blocks - some old and some new - that I decided to take mine off the shelf and use them for their intended purpose.

What I Used:
Vintage printing blocks
Paint brush
Fusible interfacing
Linen fabric
Acrylic paint
Needle and thread
Embroidery thread
Sewing machine

What I did:
For my first project, I began by attaching fusible interfacing to the back of white linen fabric following the manufacturer's instructions.  My fabric was cut a few inches wider than the printing block and about five times longer. I painted the block with gray acrylic paint using a paint brush.  I used enough paint to cover the raised portions of the block but not overload it with too much paint. I then pressed the block firmly on to the fabric.

I continued reapplying paint after each impression and printing until I had covered the entire length of the fabric with the design.

The next step was making a flower template. I found a clip art picture on the computer and used it as my pattern.  After waiting for the paint to dry, I cut out four flowers from the stamped fabric.
I then cut the center circles free hand from the same white linen fabric.  I pinned and sewed the centers in place on the flowers with my sewing machine using a 1/4" seam allowance. The completed flowers were then sewn in the pattern shown below onto natural linen fabric which had been cut to my desired pillow size. The flowers were sewn on by machine using a 1/4" seam allowance.
To complete the project, I edged the flowers and flower centers by hand with embroidery thread before constructing the pillow.

The second project involved using the letters “X” and “O”. I used two different colors of paint - gray and white - and did not interface the fabric.
Again, I simply painted the backs of the blocks with water based acrylic paint using a paint brush and pressed the blocks firmly onto the fabric (already cut to my desired pillow size). I started by alternating the large "O" and the small "O" to form a pattern. 

I then added a series of "X's" to fill in the open space.
This fabric was also turned into a pillow.

What I learned:

After looking online at other block printed fabric products, I have found most people use water based ink. I am not sure how the acrylic paint will hold up to washing. However, if you have ever spilled it on your clothes you know it is nearily impossible to remove once it has dried.  The fabric was definitely a little stiff where it had been painted. I have been told there is a fabric medium available in craft stores that can be added to soften the feel of the paint.

If you do use paint, make sure you place something underneath your fabric. The paint will go through the fabric and paint whatever surface is below.

Finally, I like to block print! I will be keeping an eye out now for vintage letters to use for future projects.


Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

Aren't you glad you took them off the shelf? I've heard you need to put something under the fabric if you are stenciling a design, too. They turned out great and I think they made for nice pillows. Have fun!

Lindsay said...

FUN! Question: what is "fusible interfacing"? I want to try this!

colorchic said...

What a fabulous idea! Love it! So Creative!

Cottage on the Hill said...

I love block printing too. I did a lot of this in college. We made our own blocks out of wood or erasers...even foam. We used both fabric dye/ink and paint. There is a fabric medium you can but to mix with your acrylic paint. It gives the paint a softer feel once it's on the fabric as well as making the piece more washer friendly. You can get it in the paint section at most craft stores. Happy Printing! :)

annies home said...

looks like it would be fun

Brabourne Farm said...

Your cushions are fabulous. The last time I was in India I bought some antique printing blocks - they are so beautiful and even though I could never use them I just love looking at them! Leigh

Deepali Kalia Interior Design Blog Filling Spaces said...

i love block prints' too,
check my collection of prints,

Janean said...

ever try to wash acrylic OUT of your shirt or some fabric you accidentally drip it on? trust me. you'll be enjoying the blocked prints of yours for YEARS to come.

p.s. they look FAB FAB FAB!

Maria Killam said...

Excellent job! And it looks so professional! it's no wonder you are in magazines!

Kelly @ Much To Do With Nothing said...

I love these! What a neat way to personalize your pillow fabric. I'd like to try this sometime.

Anonymous said...

These turned out really cute! I would have automatically used acrylic paint, so thanks for the tip on using water based ink.

Nate said...

Wow - the XO fabric is a knockout! I hope you do more and put them in the store!

Nate @ LaurelStreet

Pearl Maple said...

Well done!
This looks fabulous and really liked the way you have taken the o's and made a whole new adbstract design out of them. Thanks for sharing.

Screaming Meme said...

I am loving this blog...You have great ideas! :) Thanks for sharing them! I wanted to invite you over to my blog...Screaming Meme's...It is a decorating blog... and I have a comical blog about a "normal" family going GLUTEN I hope you will stop in...Thanks, Screaming Meme

Kaysi said...

Wow wow wow, that's awesome! What a great idea!

Debbie said...

Beautiful - love them! Thanks for sharing!!!!

Mallory said...

I LOVE this pillow! What a great idea!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful projects! I linked this to my stenciling post too, come on over and have a look!

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