Frequently asked questions about wood block printing

We thought a little roundup of the questions we've been asked in workshops might be helpful...

Where do the wood blocks come from?

They are Fairtrade and carved by hand in India. They're made from a very hard dense wood called Sheesham wood.

What fabric do you use?

We use only natural fabrics like cotton and linen which means the paint adheres better than with synthetic fabrics.

What paint to you use?

We use fabric paint for the fabric and stationery. It is quite translucent so can be overlapped to make interesting effects. You could use acrylic paint on paper but it is thicker and more opaque. It also dries quicker and therefore requires more washing of the blocks to change between colours. This can slow things down.

How does the paint stick to the fabric?

The paint is made permanent by heat, so items need to be ironed after the workshop.

How do you choose colours? 

There are two basic options here - choose 'analogous' colours which are close together in appearance e.g. purple, blue, turquoise. Or chose 'complimentary' colours which are opposites e.g. green and red. If you're not sure about how to do this, you can use a colour wheel to help you.

Can you put more than one colour on a block?

Yes, you just need different sponges to apply the colours to different areas. When you want to change colour, you just need to wipe of the old residue with a kitchen towel or rag.

How do you get a pattern planned out?

Fold your fabric to create creases which then guide your placement of blocks. A measuring tape and some pins can also help with planning. If you're using paper, then a very light pencil mark can work, but you can't rub it out once the paint has gone over it.

How do you make neat corners with borders?

You can use masking tape at a 45 degree angle in the corner or a piece of paper. Print your first block slightly over this, then let it dry. Once dry, move the tape/ paper over what you have printed so that it is aligned with the 45 degree edge of the first print. Print your second block over the tape/ paper. Remove the tape/paper and you will have a 'mitered corner'.

Watch our wood block printing videos to see the action!