June 27th, 2014 | By | 248 Comments

DIY: Wood Block Printing

We love a solid essential. But sometimes, just sometimes, essentials need a little bit of customization. And as much as we love a good puffy painting party, raised smiley sunshine faces and stick figure kitty cats might not be the ideal match for every kit.
Our two favorite options: Screen Printing or Wood Block Printing. Screen printing will give you a much cleaner result, but the process it a bit more involved. Wood block printing is a bit rougher, and involves a bit more work on your end, but you will not need to order a screen.
For the former, read our DIY Screen Printing Tutorial
And for the latter, read on…

* Blank tee, tank…whatever it is you are printing on. Pictured: SWELL Pom Pom Tank
* Linoleum Block (basically, a piece of linoleum glued to a wood block – available at any art store)
* Ink Roller
* Fabric Ink
* Linoleum cutter/blades
* Optional: carbon paper for tracing printed designs onto your block
* Step 1: If you are creating your design, use a pen to outline the design directly onto the block. If you are using a printed design, place a sheet of carbon paper between the print-out of your design and the block. Trace over the design. For a tutorial on how to create a print-out for easy printing, click HERE.  **NOTE: make sure to draw your design in reverse, especially if you are including any numbers or letters.

* Step 2: Start scraping away the negative space around your design. Using the cutting tool, cut the pieces away that you DO NOT want printed. Anything left behind (ie, the raised parts) will be the piece that gets printed.  Don’t get lazy with cutting, as any small pieces left behind will leave spots on your fabric.

* Step 3: Using a plate or any other smooth surface, roll ink onto your roller. Using the roller, roll ink to cover the raised pieces of your block.

*Step 4: Give it a practice run! You only have one shot at this, so it’s recommended that you try the print first with a scrap piece of fabric. Throw the piece of fabric over the inked block, and press evenly to make sure all parts of your design make their way to the fabric.
* Step 5: To avoid getting ink on both sides of the fabric, and to make sure it lies flat, place a piece of cardboard or a second block between the front and back layers of your garment. Re-ink your block, then invert the block/cardboard and press the garment face down into your inked block (pressing evenly as you did in your practice run).


* Gently peel the fabric off the block and let dry! If there are any ink spots that somehow managed to make their way onto the fabric, LET THEM BE! Imperfections are expected with this method of printing, so embrace them. Trying to blot them out will likely leave you with a bigger mess, stains, etc.

* Need a blank canvas? Check out a few new SWELL Essentials

Like this DIY? Check out more DIY ideas on the blog

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