Thursday, 11 September 2008
Sometimes when you're printing tiny blocks (to make buttons, for instance) it's quicker to ink the blocks with a stamp pad rather than a foam brush or roller. I haven't been able to find any instructions for a home-made stamp pad to use with fabric paint, only commercial ones. So here's what I did:
Supplies - stamp; a flat plastic container, like a cd jewel case; fabric paint or silkscreen ink; spoon or knife; felt cut to fit into plastic container; table salt.
Put a dollop of ink into the plastic container.
Add a few grains of ordinary table salt to the ink. This will 'melt' the ink, making it runnier and able to soak into the felt. Proceed with caution; rather add salt a few times than too much at once. You can see in the picture how little I added. Wait a few moments for the salt to start working.
(This is a trick I learned years ago when painting tablecloths with silkscreen ink. I haven't been able to find any reference to it online, and I don't know the chemistry of it. The colour density of the ink doesn't seem to be affected, though if you're printing rather than painting you'll get a thinner coat of ink on your block. The fastness of the colour isn't affected either - the tablecloths have withstood years of washing. It seems to work with most makes of fabric paint or ink.)
Mix it around a bit to get all the ink melted. Clean the knife thoroughly, so as to not contaminate your other ink.
See? Drippy, but not too drippy.
Put the felt on top, and let the ink soak through. (I tried this with a thin piece of foam, too, pouring the ink on and letting it soak in, but the coverage on the block wasn't as even as with felt.)
Dab the block gently onto the felt a few times.
Check that your block is properly inked, and print. (Sorry about the blurriness here, I was holding the block to reflect the light, and that one-handed camera thing is beyond me.)
It does take a little bit of practice to get a feel for how much ink you need on the block, so have some scrap fabric handy for test prints. Rinse the leftover paint out of the felt and let it dry for another day, and set the print as usual.
And another useful thing I figured out today (sheesh, what a day!) ...
To line up prints for repeats printed left to right and top to bottom, place the block for the first print, then fold the bottom edge of the fabric up as a guide for the rest of the row.