Print making: Patterns

Make, make, make. I actually did it! After one melted lunchbox and a very steamy microwave later I was able to marvel at the genius that is the art of hand dyeing.

After deciding a few weeks ago to try my hand at textile printing to combine my love of patterns and all things textiles I set to work investigating how to go about it. After many blogs, websites and pieces of advice from fellow crafters I decided to settle on some easy carve lino blocks. This way I could work quickly – I’m not the most patient – and also skill level required was beginner to basic! I decided to buy a kit to get me started as this then provided me with the lino discs perfect for stamp making, lino cutters of various shapes and sizes and a handle that I could fix the lino discs on to, to make the printing easier…and in theory less messy.

I decided to think about what I would pick if I was choosing patterns and colours for myself. What kind of design did I want to aim for (aim is the best word as I wasn’t entirely sure how it would turn out!) and what base colour did I want the bags to be.

Then I got to work. Mixing various hand dyes to make the colours (I hoped) I wanted for the main colour of the bags. I had looked up dyeing techniques to see what patterns could be created other than the standard “tie dye” pattern that was popular in some households growing up and discovered with a handful of elastic bands and some well-placed folds and a lot of scrunching you can actually create a wide range of effects.

I settled naturally for the scruffy irregular look for the colour of my bags, again this links with my lack of patience and subconscious draw to all things messy.

I chose dylon fabric dye for the bags as it is a brand that I have used before for refreshing faded jeans and a brand that came with the option to microwave to set the colour so that my lack of patience was appeased. Once I had folded and scrunched into my desired pattern I simply submerged the bag in the colour of choice, let it sit for a while, then rang out each bag and placed them one at a time in a lunchbox and ZAP. Note to self at this point: don’t seal the vacuum lunchbox! It creates a nicely warped plastic mess that at any point could implode or explode. I then popped the rather warm bags in the wash to rinse and spin.

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So I now had 10 dyed bags and no clue where to go next. So I dug out my wooden blocks collected from various trips round the globe and settled on a design I liked. I then mixed up some paint colours that I thought would complement the bags and just went for it. There was no point staring at the bags, I might as well have a go and I have to say I was pretty happy with the result. I had to make do without a roller as it had not arrived in time for this session of printing. However a paintbrush and a shiny polypocket proved to be good alternatives. So I now had my first bag printed and hanging up to dry. I decided to mix another colour, and using the same stamp, create a different design. Two bags done!

Now it was time to take the real plunge. My lino stamps! I had already carved a couple of designs; one failed cactus, an average “borience leaf” and a not too shabby basic daisy. I settled for the daisy and set about printing two more bags, one in each colour…not too bad.

So now I have a selection of bags printed, dried and ironed to fix. I will eventually list them in my etsy shop, however I first need to decide if I can bear to give them up! I will definitely be keeping one for my weekly food shop!

My next plan is to perfect my lino cutting. My first attempts were a mixture of success and failure and I would like to try and build on the detail that I am able to incorporate. Steady hands and some long needed patience are going to be required!

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