Soooo I was very lucky to have my first experience of woodblock printing whilst we were back in England. It was totally out of the blue and I absolutely loved it!
A big shout out to my teacher Katerina, whose details I’ll pop at the bottom of this post. She encouraged me to go with my gut feeling and not worry too much about following the rules. I’m not much of a planner when it comes to making, so it was the perfect for me!
I started with the basics, choosing the colours and blocks to work with. After trying ALOT I opted for a couple of simple geometric shapes and red and blue. Katerina did a few demonstrations for me so I would understand about the amount of ink needed, pressure to apply etc. The thing that has really stuck with me is that your block needs to make a noise like a kiss when you blot it on the ink. mwah xxx
Then I was ready to go! Printing away, with breaks for tea and a gossip. I worked on handmade paper and grey and light pink material. My favourite was definitely the grey material as it muted down the red and blue. Katerina could tell pretty quickly that I wasn’t that in to symmetry and order. So she introduced me to good old newspaper and how it can be used as a barrier between your block and surface. That opened a whole new world of possibility!
I was on a total high after the session and wanted to jump around telling everyone how awesome woodblock printing is. I am inspired and plan to get some woodblocks made here in Burkina Faso. Or source some wood I can work with, as I already have the tools from China. So I better stop writing and start making!
Very rough step by step guide
So here is a step by step guide of what I did, but for all the accurate information it is best to contact Katerina. She has a home studio, loads of knowledge and can give you one to one tutorials.
Prepare your space
a pad covered in a material like felt for the ink to go on.
The woodblocks you’ll be using.
A paintbrush for each ink colour.
Material to test on.
Material or paper you’ll print on.
A surface to work on that won’t be ruined if you get some ink on it.
Newspaper and masking tape if you want to use it.
An apron to protect your lovely clothes.
Something heavy to tap the woodblock when it’s on the material. Katerina gave me a little weight.
Getting ink ready and practise/experiment
Use the brush to put a few layers of ink onto the felt surface. Just make it a little larger than the woodblock you’ll be using. You have to keep this patch of ink wet throughout your working session.
Tap the woodblock on the ink patch until you hear the kiss noise. You will need to do this once if there is a small surface area, or more times for a larger surface area.
Use your blocks and different colours to experiment with patterns and layout on a piece of rejected material.
Once you’ve got ink on your block place it on your material, stating with 2 corners. Then lower the other corners. Always make sure you are able to look over the block.
Use the heavy object to tap at least twice on the woodblock.
Keep printing until you have your desired pattern. If you want a consistent amount of ink you must keep applying ink to the felt pad.
Use a hair dryer to dry your ink.
You need to iron your fabric, with print side up for about 5 minutes to seal the print. Iron again for 5 minutes after a while before washing it, just to make sure It’ll still be there!
You then need to wash the material.
I have to admit that I got carried away with the fun of making so haven’t memorised the types of ink you need to use or the liquid you need to add when washing it. But do contact Katerina through instagram @katka_studio. She’s also launching her website at the end of January so I’ll add that here very soon!
Hope this has inspired you to get printing!
Check out some batik I tried with the Gejia tribe in Guizhou, China here!