Dec 08

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Hot tea and block printing

Above: my desk on a “Avalanche Threat Level: Green” day and my printing setup

It’s snowing and chilly out, which means that it’s the season to start sending out holiday cards again. This year, I decided to challenge myself to block print my cards. I say “challenge” because, well, I seem to have so many projects going on at the same time that I never know if any of them will get finished. I guess that’s one for the New Year’s resolutions list…

I sketched a design on paper, traced with tracing paper and pencil, rubbed it onto a rubber block, and carved out the design. Then comes the long process of test printing and refining. Usually, this step can take me anywhere from ten to twenty repetitions until I get a clean print without little remnants of rubber cluttering up the image.

Above: A closeup of my finished block

Next, I use a brush to ensure that all the tiny bits of rubber are out of the various grooves of the block. This is an important step, since the printing pigment ink is very sticky and will cause the little bits to get stuck to various parts of the block, causing unsightly white spots and blurs in the print.

For this card, I used a Colorbox Petalpoint pigment pad to ink it. I used two colours to bring some visual interest to different areas of the print. I think I will try another kind of ink pad in the future, as I find Colorbox to be very smudgy and fussy about which kind of paper it works on. The cardstock I used was Canson Effects– they are gorgeous pearlescent cards that I found at the thrift store for a few cents per unopened pack! However, they are a single sheet, not folded like a traditional card, since they’re supposed to be used for wedding announcements.

After inking and pressing with my trusty, small Speedball printing press, I clip up the cards to dry on my improvised drying rack. At this step, I stand back and marvel at the fact that I’ve managed to make this many cards all at once :)

After the cards are dry, I apply the details with a separate stamp I carved while waiting. The stamp will be attached to a mount later, but for now, this is fine.

With a metallic pen, I draw circles on plain brown kraft paper labels, and write on the addresses. I plan on carving a label stamp in the future to save having to draw so many circles. After writing in greetings on the backs of the prints, these babies are ready to mail!

Permanent link to this article: http://project-aika.com/2012/12/hot-tea-and-block-printing/

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