I have really enjoyed seeing the wonderful printed fabrics Jesse exchanged and received in her swatch swap (flickr group here), and I really wanted to participate. But I’ve never printed fabric before, let alone cut out a lino block (eek), so I thought I’d approach things from a rather basic level first, using a rubber stamp. I bought some fabric paint and plain, medium weight calico, and had a go yesterday with a stamp I acquired in a set of stationery.

It took me a while to discover the right proportion of paint to block, and a little longer to think through the block spacing, but soon I was printing away very happily. I found the look and colour of the final printed fabric very pleasing: I like blue on white generally, but indigo on calico is a winning combination. It recalls, for me, the very particular look of American nineteenth-century household linens. When I see an indigo printed fabric, in fact, I tend to think of Deborah Norris Logan (notable for many things, including her design of a wonderful indigo print that I had the pleasure of seeing here)

After drying and fixing the print overnight, I made a few kitchen things with the fabric this morning: above, a place mat; below, a tea towel.

I made a few napkins too.
Much as I like these indigo butterflies (and I do) I really want to try cutting and printing my own design. There are good instructions for this sort of thing in my trusty collection of Dryad Handicraft Leaflets, but, as I am such a novice, I wondered if you had any suggestions for me (particularly as regards materials). Should I just start with a homely potato and work my way up from there?

19 thoughts on “indigo

  1. Beautiful blog, very tastefully done!

    I’ve always wanted to get into fabric block printing, or at the very least, something on a t-shirt. And thanks for introducing me to the Dryad leaflets.


  2. I love the idea of asking everyone what they use? I do a potato on paper bags! Fabric … love your towels even if it is not your design. Cannot wait to see what you come up with.


  3. Lovely fabric. You might find the book ‘Handmade Prints’ by Annie Desmet useful, it starts with simple things like potato prints and works its way up. It’s very straightforward at every point while still being beautiful and inspirational. It actually has decent art in it, which a lot of instructional books don’t.

    I’ve also heard good things about ‘Lotta Prints: How to Print with Anything, from Potatoes to Linoleum’ by Lotta Jansdotter but I haven’t actually seen a copy yet so I don’t know how good it is.


  4. Beautiful butterflies – such a lovely teatowel and great idea of rubber stamping onto fabric. I have done quite a bit of lino printing on to paper and found it quite easy because you can draw or trace your image onto lino. I’d just found that I too chunks of my finger out with over zealous cutting. I quite fancied carving a block from that rubber stuff you can get in the states but haven’t found a supplier here. (I’m sure it is available but I worried I was having a craft fad!) I’m also in deep love with Goco printed fabric but am keeping that underwraps for the moment, it could get expensive!


  5. I can recommend screen-printing for your first fabric-printing exercises, as screen printing involves stencils and paper, allowing you to perfect your design on paper before you commit it to fabric…

    you can find out more at fibrecrafts.co.uk.

    I started out with screen-printing on fabric, lino-blocks on paper… and progressed from there.


  6. Beautiful photos, and such a lovely simple print! I think each cutting medium has disadvantages, so it’s best to pick one and see what happens…. I get the best prints off designs with fine lines and fewer large solid areas, but those are more difficult to cut. But really, the cutting just takes time. Work slowly, and if you use lino keep it warm.


  7. My goodness those are gorgeous!!! You got me inspired to print too…then I realized that I have absolutely NO time for a new hobby so I will live vicariously through yours.

    These are perfect!


  8. i am hot to carve blocks too, and intend slavishly to copy the work of my betters, until i acquire some skills of my own. i’m going to start here, with carrie ackroyd’s heavenly prints of john clare’s poems.

    which dryad pamphlet are you contemplating (as i recall the litho block depicted there is also well worth plagiarizing)?



  9. do you really not like linoleum block? i think it’s a wonderfully satisfying process, although it might take a while to get something really refined looking like that stamp.


  10. I was very inspired by Jesse’s swatch exchange, too. I think your first try came out very well, and I’m looking forward to hearing more about your experimentation.


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