Just Hit Print… Block Printing
A couple of days ago there was a thread on the Etsy forums about reproducing 3-dimension art. The author was very confused about the different types of printing methods. I thought the subject would be a great blog post. Educational for not only the art seller or creator but also for art buyers. I will start off with block printing, which is the oldest form of printing.
Block printing originated in China in the antiquity. The earliest surviving examples from China date to before 220. The sample on the left is from a Chinese text from the Yuan Dynasty (1271 to 1378 appox.). This sample on the right is from approximately 1704-1716. It was printed, then hand-colored.
Block printing is a “relief” type of printing. Which means the areas where there is to be no ink the wood is cut away, the ink will cover the “original” surface area. Block printing was originally used to print on textiles, and later on paper. The blocks for the printing were originally wood, now artists also use linoleum blocks. The easiest form of block printing is one ink color (one block). But color block printing is also possible, for every color a new block is needed.
There are three methods of printing to used with block printing:
- Stamping which is used for many fabrics and most early European woodcuts. Printing is done by putting the paper or fabric on a flat surface with the blocks on top and pressing or hammering the back of the block.
- Rubbing which the block goes face-up on a flat surface, with the paper or fabric on top. The back is then rubbed with a burnisher (pad, wood, leather, etc).
- And a printing press
Here is a great tutorial from Lizzy House on linoleum block printing.
Examples of Block Printing
Below are examples of block printing available on Etsy. These prints are all on paper, left to right:
- Haircuts from Moment of Stars
- Blue Dogs Sleeping from Anthea Art
- Anna’s Hummingbird from Anagram Press
These are on fabric, left to right:
- Chickadee childrens shirt from 1 Girl 1 Boy Block Printers
- Linen Apron from Jewelweeds
- You Are My Sunshine pillow slip from Inklore
Hope you enjoyed this little snippet on block printing. Next up letterpress.