Thursday, June 9, 2011

SAW Spring 2011: Post 2 of 4 Block Printing

My first class at SAW was Block Printing with Lizzy House. Before I go on further I just want to say (er... type) how much I enjoyed Lizzy's teaching style. For me, for my "creative process" (ugh, I feel like that term is so pretentious... how about "mojo standard operating procedure" instead?)- for my mojo standard operating procedure, (MSOP for short) I felt Lizzy provided just the right type and amount of information in order for each person to successfully learn how to lino block print.

-Overview of the Class-

Beginning: The class started with each person introducing themselves and why they decided to take the course. Lizzy then encouraged us all to work on our designs (sketches) and informed us that she would be going around the room to look at our materials (one at a time). Everything and everyone was great (per Lizzy). All the materials were great, nothing was a problem, we'd all done extremely well even though we'd all brought something slightly different. She used the opportunity to review all the different kinds of carving medium and described typical use for each. Additionally, she took some time to review how to make a simple repeating pattern (turning quadrants 1, 2, 3, 4 into 4, 3, 2, 1). Otherwise, she moved about the room answering questions, offering guidance, and periodically checking on each person/our comfort level (if we were quiet or didn't ask for help).

Middle: Some people brought transfer/tracing paper and pencils and were able to rub their designs on to the lino block. Others (like me) hand drew the design on the block with a pencil. Lizzy gave an overview of safe carving procedures and stressed repeatedly that one should never ever carve toward oneself nor place an errant finger in the path of the carving instruments. The carving portion of the day lasted the longest (approximately 4 hours).

: Lizzy had everyone gather around a large table and she demonstrated proper use of the glass, ink and brayer in applying ink to the lino block. The class then pulled together and each person set up a station with a different color. We spent the last part of the day inking the lino block and printing the fabric (about 2 hours).

Wrap-up: After we were done and all materials/work spaces had been cleaned up and stored away, Lizzy had the group lay all the fabric out and circle chairs around the finished pieces. We each described what surprised us and we liked/didn't like about the process/course- somewhat of a shared lessons learned.

My specific MSOP: I was completely unprepared. I had no idea what I was going to do nor did I bring anything with which to sketch (I'm not a sketcher nor do I consider myself an artist; the closest thing I do is doodle incessantly during conference calls and staff meetings). I scoured my bag and found a hotel pen and the small blank journal provided to us in the SAW bag (thank goodness for the SAW goodie-bag). As Lizzy went around the room it soon became apparent that I had the largest lino block (6X9) and, therefore, would have to sketch something that would fill the majority of the block but I didn't want to be cuckold to a large single image. Everyone in the class was supportive and generous. My table-mate, Caarin (I think I spelled that right,) offered helpful encouragement and we troubleshooted the first phases of carving together; I was able to borrow a pencil from the lovely Carol and a no slide mat from Lazymama. In the end I was astonished by all the kind words for my design and felt very lucky to have been in the company of so many talented women.

I was so encouraged by the comments on my design that I've decided to plan set of fabrics centered around these independent owls. It will take some time but I hope to have a complete set ready in the fall... will most likely use spoonflower. I figure, even if no one is interested in the fabric, at least I'll have a great time with my MSOP creating it.


  1. love your owls and reading about the process, great job!

  2. Wow! I love the owls. Each one is different and shows such personality. Looking forward to your spoonflower designs.