Friday, 12 February 2010

Lining things up

Spacing prints can be tricky.

One of the methods I use is to glue the cut lino block to a slightly larger board, and trim that evenly all the way round leaving a narrow edge. Then, working from the top left corner of the fabric, I print a row downwards along the fabric edge, lining up the top edge of the block against the bottom edge of the previous print. Going back to the top of the fabric, I print a second row, using the first as a guide.


Covering a large piece of cloth with individual prints takes time, though. Once I know I like a print, I'll often make up a bigger block, to print a few prints at a time.


Having worked out the spacing with the small block, you can use it to print a basic unit of the repeat directly onto the lino, and cut out the new blocks. (Versafine or similar stamp pad ink works well for this.) You could also print the repeat onto paper, and trace it onto the lino. This being a very simple repeat, the basic unit is cross-shaped. I printed 4 flowers onto paper in this shape, and then printed the flowers that would surround it. The resulting block is the 4 flowers, plus the space between them and the surrounding ones.

Usually when I cut blocks I trim away as much of the excess as possible, to avoid smears of ink around the prints. But with these large blocks, the excess is important: it's how you measure the space between prints.


This print is printed diagonally down from the top left corner; the top edges are the most important for lining up here. (The black dot is so that I know the block is the right way round; it's worrying how often I'll ink a block, turn it over, and then not know which way is up.)

For the Vintage Pattern Ladies, I worked out the repeat on paper as well, cut the blocks individually, and glued them to a large block.


The top and left edges line up with previous prints. Marking the back of the block helps, too. The line across the top shows where the printing edge of the block is.


This mark shows where the hand of the figure will print.


Mark the edge of the block, and run the lines round the back.


The rose print is a single block. I space the vertical rows by lining up the edge of the block with the edge of the previous print.


Because the next vertical row starts stepped slightly down from the previous one, I've marked the back of the block, not to show where it will print, but to show the points where it should line up with the prints.


These aren't the most precise methods you could use; other ways are to mark the fabric with disappearing ink, or to lay rulers across it as a guide. But if you're impatient to print without measuring the fabric, or likely to print on lots of odd sizes, these methods work pretty well. Measure when you cut the block, and you never have to measure again!

24 comments:

Carina said...

Ohhhh!! This is very good advice (I am definitely the impatient type!) - I'll have to remember this for, well, one fine day when I finally get round to cutting some blocks.. ;-)

andrea said...

That was awesome....I really enjoyed this tutorial.
Thanks, Jesse!

Anabel Fournier said...

This is great. I am working on some designs to try the block printing and was figuring out how to make the marks... :-)

Anja said...

I was wondering about this. I have had my block cut for months now, but not knowing how to line up the repeats properly has led me to stuff it away in a drawer. Perhaps now I have the courage to take it out again. I was stressing about the fact that I placed it slight crooked on the lino, but most of that will get cut away!

missy_minzy said...

You are very good on what you are doing, Jesse!
It's just amazing how your carving skill is almost so perfect! Versus mine is so different. My current stage is just a one off print on paper. You have truly open up my eyes to look further from what I have been doing! :)

flowerpress said...

Oh Jesse, thank you, it's so generous of you to share all this!
Your printing is so perfect though, you make it look easy, though I know it takes a strong nerve to print such a detailed repeat and lots of skill to get it right :-)

june at noon said...

Great information. I'm a big fan of your work, and it's great seeing how you've worked it all out.

khristian a. howell said...

this was just awesome sharing your process! great job!

Danya Ristić said...

So interesting! And the first flower design is wonderful.

Lara said...

Ohhhh this is just amazing! I'm so impressed. Makes screen printing look far too easy!

alex sunday said...

great post! - always lovely to see the thought that goes into your work. :)

Tracey said...

Thanks for this, it wouldn't have entered my head to cut a block with several repeats.

Ruby in the Dust said...

thanks for sharing! your prints always look so neatly repeated, now I know why :)

painted fish studio said...

i love this post! it's so interesting to see the technical details that aren't immediately obvious... the unsexy stuff that really pulls it together... i had to read this at least 3 times to really soak it all in!

Pinktulip said...

This is all very interesting! I dabbled with a bit of this last year, but got quite frustrated. My biggest problem was that the backing of my blocks always caught ink and left ink marks on the fabric. Maybe I pressed too hard or my blocks were not done correctly. Great tutorial!

Gallery32 said...

You are quite clever! I have often wondered how you lined up your prints.

Jenny- Home Sweet said...

Thanks for this! This is one of my big challenges when I'm printing any length of fabric, and it's really helpful to see how you approach it!

Thea said...

Aha! So it is all carefully planned. Very interesting to see all that is involved. Thanks for sharing.

Avlor said...

I just stumbled upon your blog from a search in google buzz for "Printing fabric". I've just started printing and LOVE your blog. Will be sharing with my little printing group!

Denton + Ashton Avon said...

what do you use to apply the paint and then how do you press the lino block, do you use some sort of roller?
great pieces of work by the way.

Jesse said...

Thanks! I use a sponge roller to apply the paint, and I just press the block down with my hands. Sometimes if it's a really big block I use a rolling pin.

Anonymous said...

I'm so impressed with the detail you are able to achieve on the fabric with such fine cuts. What kind of ink do you use and do you thin it?

Jesse said...

Thanks! The fine detail is mostly a result of printing on very smooth fabric. I use a pretty standard water-based silkscreen ink, and don't thin it at all.

Sydney Flower Delivery said...

Wow, I love how you made the patterns and made it so simple to do it, fantastic method!!!