Troubleshooting block lino printing onto fabric

Block lino printing is not about perfection. Uneven printing or spacing is part of the hand-made process. However, there are some common issues which are potentially avoidable or fixable.

lino block printing

Making a mistake cutting the block

Sometimes a tool can slip and scratch the surface of the lino in the wrong place. If it is a deep scratch then you will either have to start again, or accept you’ll be dabbing in paint at the end of your printing. A light scratch may not be that noticeable though.

Mixing up textile paints

You can buy ready made colours, but you also mix your own. Do some experiments with more precise measurements either using a small weighing scale or measuring spoons. 

If you want pastel shades, it is good to start with a white base, and add just a few drops of other colours in, building up until you get the shade you like.

If you want darker shade, start with your chosen colour and add a few drops of black.

Make sure you write down your ‘recipe’ so you can recreate it as there is nothing more annoying than running out of a great colour!

Getting the right amount of paint on the block

Keep most of the paint at the top ¼ of your paint tray and drag a little down to the rolling area in the centre. Pass the roller through the paint a couple of times so there is a thin layer in the tray.

Roll just enough paint onto your block so that tiny wiggly lines appear on the surface. If there are no wiggly lines, then there may not be enough paint.

If you add too much paint, you’ll clog up finer details of the design, so just wipe it off and start again.

If you are not sure, just practice on paper first.

How hard to press

How hard to press can sometimes depend on the size of the block. With blocks that are up to 5cm, a quick firm press should work fine. However, blocks over this size will require even pressure all over to ensure a clear print. Press the block down then hit it firmly and sharply with your fist. If you are making a deep indent in your mat, you’re probably doing too much and will end up with blurred edges.

Print is too faint

If your print is too faint, there was not enough paint, or enough pressure applied.

You can fill it in by hand, however you have to be very careful. Use a very tiny brush and lightly dab in the gaps. If you try to apply the paint by swiping the across the surface, it will get overly thick and not enhance the motif.

lino block printing