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Pillow Block Printing Workshop Re-Cap

On Saturday March 24, I held a Pillow Block Printing workshop here in town. The workshop was a great success. I so enjoyed sharing my love of printing with the ladies that entrusted me to teach them.

The workshop primarily focused on  getting the attendees comfortable with inking and stamping on fabric. There was no pressure to create art to carve into their own stamps.

Here are a few scenes of students working:

Here we are with the final results:

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In the next workshop, students will learn how to draw, plan out and carve their stamps.

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Registering Block Prints with a Jig

First off, if you have been following my work, then you know that I am an imperfectionist. I believe that slight flaws add interest and soul to a hand-printed piece of fabric.

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Block Printed fabric

That said, the work should not be sloppy. There is a difference between artifacts of the hand-made process, and just being careless with the work.

I love to print in repeat. Most of the time I can get away with eye-balling the placement of my motifs (and frankly, I prefer to work this way). However, there are times when perfect placement is necessary. For instance, this piece, which requires precise placement to create a seamless pattern :

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Block Printed fabric

Doing this by hand was tricky until I discovered a “Stampamajig.”

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It is essentially a “Jig” for lining up your print placement, used in conjunction with the accompanying stamped template:

Plastic imaging template

Plastic imaging template

How to use:

  1. Make your print template by trimming the clear plastic sheet to your stamp shape/size. Then ink and stamp onto the template. Let dry. This will serve to help place your print where you want it, without guesswork. image 2
  2. Make your first impression on the fabric where you want to begin.
  3. Place your template next to the first impression. Make sure that the template is oriented as you want the image.

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    Stamped Image, Jig, Template

  4. Line up the Stampamajig to the corner closest to where the next image will go. 713c3c15f1a0dbda32ec43567086019c--jig-barn
  5. Ink up your stamp and place it in the corner of the Stampamajig and stamp as usual. You should now have a perfectly placed image. Repeat as often as needed.

Here is a little video I made showing this process.

Alternative materials:

Now, of course because I’m a rebel and I always need to find a different way to do something, I have some alternatives for you.

You may not be able to find this product easily.

You may want a larger version.

Or you could just protest the over-commercialization of craft supplies… Ok, that’s just me.

Anyway, here are some other things that I found works well.

1. For the Jig itself:

  1. Make your own with wood, if you’re handy. This requires that you find the straightest wood you can find.
  2. T-square.
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  3. Framing Square. (found at any hardware/home improvement store.
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    I think this is probably the best alternative because it is metal, and not prone to warping with temperature and moisture. Also it is moulded (?) so that there is no risk of the corner getting out of square like with a T-square.

2. For the Template/Imaging Sheet:

Plastic Cutting Sheet! The Template Imaging Sheet is literally the same material!

Remember my previous post about dollar store items? This is another use for those awesome things!

So there ya have it! My secret to making perfectly lined up prints (when I want to, cuz frankly, that’s not often). Let me know what you think!

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My 20 best stamp making/blockprinting dollar store finds.

It’s no secret that the dollar store is a treasure trove of household supplies on the cheap. Where else can you find household cleaners, home decor, kitchen supplies, toys, and even groceries (yikes) all for 1 measly dollar?

Just about any dollar store will do, but I especially love my no-name, low-budget dollar local stores. If you don’t have one of these in your area, the regular ol’ Dollar Tree is a fantastic option. I especially love that they have an ever increasing and improving selection.

I have found a lot of items that I use in my block-printing practice. When shopping for art type supplies in the dollar store, it is important to keep an open mind. Use your imagination, and you must might find a diamond in the rough. Here:

  1. Dishwashing foam sponges: These can be cut up and used as is, or made into ‘spouncers’ to dab paint onto your stamps.

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2. Craft foam sheets: Craft foam is great for making simple geometric shapes. These foam sheets tend to be on the thinner side, but are still useful in a pinch.

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as a bonus, you can also use adhesive foam shapes as a shortcut

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and Flip flops/knee pads, etc, when available

dressup-white-flipflops-692x362(flip flops and knee pads, make great textures!)

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3. StyroFoam plates and Trays: My personal favorite! These come about 50-100 in a pack and are fantastic for holding paint.

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4. Plastic Basins/bins/buckets: These are great for corralling stamps and other tools and materials that need to be washed. Fill about halfway with water and toss in your stamps until you are ready to wash.206576

5. Popsicle sticks, bamboo skewers: When I mix my paint in a flat plate or tray, my personal favorite paint mixer is the humble bamboo skewer. It sounds counter-intuitive, but try it! I find that it really incorporates the paint well. A close second for me is the popsicle sticks, especially when mixing inside a vessel with taller sides, such as a cup or bowl.

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6. Plastic Chopping Mats:  These are good for resting my tools in-between print pulls.

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I also cut these up and use them in plotting my stamp placement. More on this later.

7. Plastic Table Covers: These are fantastic for protecting my work surface.

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8. Rolls of paper towels: I tend  to buy these in bulk, but they are easily available at the dollar store in a pinch. I use these for cleanup, of course.

9. Cloth Rags: For reusable cleaning. My first choice would be to find old rags I already have, but if you live in rag-less home, the dollar tree is a great option for kitchen towels, shammies, microfiber rags, and even T-shirts that can be cut up for cleanup!

10. Shaving Foam: Yes, shaving foam! I use this to modify your latex paint to print on fabric. More on this later.

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11. Stamp Backs: This can be a bit of a mystery, and a bit hit-or miss, but stay with me here… When looking for supplies on the cheap, it is important to keep your eyes and your mind open for things designed for one purpose, but repurposable for another. For instance,  the Dollar Store sells clear acrylic picture frames in sizes as small as 4”x6”. You see a frame, I see a stamp backing! Sure, the acrylic is thin, and you will have to trim off the stand, but it beats the craft store acrylic prices by a mile.

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Additionally, from time to time, Dollar Tree will have wooden doodads such as games and  small cutting boards. These are also great for mounting your stamp. Lastly, Dollar Tree seels small square ceramic coasters. I see stamp backs! Those may not work for you, but the idea is to keep your eyes and mind open when shopping the Dollar Store.

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12. Super glue:  The Dollar Store is a great place to find your plain old run of the mill Cyanoacrylate super glue. They tend to come in packs of 2, 3, or 5, depending on the brand. These are fantastic for adhering your stamps to their backs, whether wooden or acrylic.

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13. Erasers I’m an eraser hoarder, and the Dollar Store has them in abundance! I especially love the ‘big mistake’ erasers because they are larger than normal.  I carve my erasers into small stamps. 

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14. Brown mailing paper rolls for stamping wrapping paper: These are great for printing your own wrapping paper, or just for test prints of a stamp.

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Sketch books for practicing stamping: My local dollar store also sells sketch pads, and printer paper. Also great for test prints and sketching.

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15. Felt Sheets: You can make your own stamp pad, and the Dollar store has you covered
16. Small Box Cutter/Craft Knife with replacement knives: For making blunt cuts of either rubber or craft foam.  

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17. ¼” Dowel Rods: these can be combined with cut up foam sponges to make a foam spouncers.

18. Plastic Bins:  For storing Stamps and other doodads.

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19. Markers/Pencils/Tape Etc for drawing out your stamps

20. Plastic Food Storage Tubs for storing paint. Their selection is in-sane! The ones pictured here come 4 in a pack. I’ve seen similar tubs in art supply stores for $5 each! I’ve often wondered who’s buying those. Hopefully it won’t be you.

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So, these are my best artmaking/crafting items that I get from the dollar store. There are so many, many more jewels to be discovered! If you are one of the few people who never considered buying supplies from the dollar store, do yourself (and your wallet) a favor!