Monday, June 20, 2011


If you love printing but don't have access to a press, or you just want to give at-home printmaking a shot, this one's for you.  This technique for hand printing is one of my favorites: relief printing! You'll see how I made the above card as well as a couple of the PrideFest and Dad Day cards. Relief printing with a rubbery carving block is a quick and easy way to create a stamp that you'll be able to use in all sorts of projects. You should have no trouble finding all of the supplies you'll need at your local art supply store and some supplies you'll already have!

  • An old ceramic or glass plate. It should be flat, so any flat glass surface will do.
  • Water-soluble block printing ink
  • Linoleum (lino) cutting tools
  • A brayer (roller)
  • A palette knife. I think a putty knife works best... Check your tool box!
  • Paper or other printable surfaces
  • Carving block. I recommend pink Speedy-Carve by Speedball. This type is more resistant to crumbling than some others I've used

  • A hand baren
  • I often use a small paint brush to 'touch-up' some prints
  • A paper designed to absorb printmaking inks. Try Arches 88 or unbleached mulberry (kozo) fiber paper


    1. Gather up your goods.
    2. Draw an image on your block in pencil. You can also transfer pencil drawings, newsprint and freshly printed ink-jet and laser-printed images with a warm iron.
    3. Choose your weapon! These cutting tools come with a variety of cutters that can be stashed in the handle - love that!
    4. Carve away the big stuff first. Be careful to move the blade away from you so as not to gouge yourself! Been there.
    5. See this nib? He's my big No. 5 large U-gouge.
    6. Carve away the more intricate areas using a smaller nib.


    7. Set out a bit of ink -- a little goes a long way. This amount here made about a dozen prints.
    8. Mix your ink. Even if you are only doing one color, it is important to give your ink a little mix - the friction makes the inks easier to work with. Use your putty knife to spread your ink into a thin line at the top of your glass surface. The line should be a bit longer than the width of your brayer.
    9. Ink up your roller. Nice and even, now.
    10. Roll the ink on your block. A thin, even coat will do.
    11. Printing time! If you're using your hand, press that bad boy down with even pressure. This is where good paper comes in handy... Some papers will cause your block to slide around a bit causing a double-vision effect.
    12. The hand baren in action. Some alternatives to using a hand baren are: the bottom of a Ball jar or a wooden spoon. For this particular small sized print, your hand will do fine.

    Alright, you did it! Once you're done printing, these inks can be cleaned up easily with water. Let your prints dry and then go wild -- collage, paint, draw or just leave your prints beautifully simple. Remember this is handmade... imperfections are what make them yours so be nice to yourself and your artwork! Enjoy and share!

    Photos via Me

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