Printing with Safeprint onto Paper and Fabric

Safeprint is a thin piece of polystyrene block that is a quick and easy way of making a relief print. You don’t need lino tools to carve it, just a pencil! For
this reason, it’s brilliant to use with children and in schools. If you haven’t tried it before, give it a go – it’s so quick!

Start by tracing your image or drawing. We used this photograph of a bear. You’ll need to use a very soft pencil or graphite stick: a 4B, 6B or 9B will
be perfect.

Flip over your drawing and place it face down on your piece of Safeprint. Use a pencil on its side to rub the tracing paper, transferring the image to
the Safeprint block. Make sure to use only the side of the pencil and press softly so not to make any dents in the Safeprint – these could show in
your prints.

You should have a faint drawing on your Safeprint. You can use this as a guideline for your block.

You’ll need two pencils for carving your block, the first of which is a hard, sharp pencil – sharpen an HB (or H, 2H etc) to within an inch of its life.
You want it to be sharp and scratchy for breaking the surface of the Safeprint without tearing or dragging.

The second pencil you will need is a blunt one – the kind that’s too blunt to draw with and would get you into trouble at school. You want a nicely rounded
end to press into the block and squash it.

This part works just like lino printing: you’re taking away the areas that you want to be left unprinted. This bear is going to be printed in a dark colour
onto a light background. This means that I am taking away the parts that I want to remain the background colour after it’s printed.

Use your blunt pencil to push down any large areas that you don’t want to print, just like carving away a piece of lino. The blunt, rounded end will squash
the polystyrene down so that it wont pick up any ink.

Use your sharp pencil to scratch in any lines and details. The sharp point will break through the surface of the polystyrene without tearing it. For thicker
lines, break through the surface first with a sharp pencil and then go over them with the blunt pencil to widen the lines.

Continue to draw all over your block with the sharp and blunt pencils, pushing or scratching away areas that you don’t want to print.

If your design is a shape like this one, use a scalpel to cut out your block. This is the only part that isn’t suitable for children, especially as the
knife needs to be really sharp so that it slices through the block rather than tearing it.

When you have cut out your block you are ready to ink it up. Mix up a colour of your choice on an inking tray or slab. For printing onto paper, we are
using Brian Clegg Premium Block Printing Inks.
These are perfect for using with Safeprint, come in a great variety of colours, are water-based and brilliant for using with children.

Roll out an area of your ink onto your tray or slab. You don’t want the ink to be squelchy. You want an even, suede-like texture that makes a zzz sound
with your roller. 

Ink up your roller in this patch of ink and gently roll it onto your block. Make sure you cover all the areas of the block but try not to go over it too
many times as the roller could end up lifting off the ink instead of putting it on.

Place your block face down on the paper. Use a clean roller to roll all over the back of the block. You may need to hold it still with your free hand.

Peel off your block to reveal your print!

To print onto fabric, remove the excess paper ink off your block by pressing it onto some scrap paper a few times. For printing onto fabric we are using

Speedball Block Printing Inks for Fabric
which are water-based and easy to use.

Roll out the ink and print using exactly the same method onto your fabric!

For this project you will need:



Block Printing a Two Colour Repeat Pattern

This is an easy method for two colour block printing on fabric that doesn’t require a computer at all so grab your pencil case and have a go:

Draw around your block onto a piece of paper.


Draw part of your design in the centre of your template.

Cut out your template and cut it into 4 equal pieces. Number your pieces 1 – 4 as seen below:

Switch pieces 1 and 2 with 3 and 4 so that the top half is swapped with the bottom. Your design should look like this:

Now switch 1 and 3 with 4 and 2 so that the left side is swapped with the right side. Your design should look like this: (check your numbers to make sure  the pieces are in the right order)

Hold (or tape on the back) your pieces together. Draw the rest of your design over the middle to fill the space.

Put your pieces back in their original order – 1,2,3,4. Tape your pieces together.

Place a piece of red carbon paper on over your block. Place your drawing on top. Choose some of the elements of the design that you would like to be one  colour and trace around them.

 Repeat these steps onto your second block, tracing the areas to be printed in your second colour. Use a piece of blue carbon paper to make it easier. If you would like to layer your colours, trace some areas onto both blocks so that they will print in both colours.

Use a lino tool to remove the surface of the areas that you do not want to print. Use a deep V tool to go around the edges of your shapes and a shallow  U tool to clear the backgrounds.

Use a Versacraft Ink Pad to ink up the first block.

 You have applied enough ink when your block appears shiny.

 Place the block face down onto your fabric. Press all over the back with the flat of your hand. Remove the block, reapply the ink and place your next print  directly beside the last.

Continue to do this to cover the fabric.

Ink up the second block with the second Versacraft Ink Pad colour. Place the block face down over your first colour and press to print.

Continue inking up your second block and printing your second colour over the whole pattern. Iron your print for a few minutes to heat set the ink.

To have a go yourself you will need:

Meet the Maker: Gnarly Tree

This week we’re staying local with Chichester based, surf obsessed Jonny Schofield telling us all about his exciting new venture: Gnarly Tree Clothing

I’m Jonny Schofield founder of Gnarly Tree Clothing. I source ethically and sustainably made clothing and screen print original designs on it. I’m passionate
about making responsible clothing more accessible and making beautiful products for those who love to be outdoors. Having studied French at university
starting an ethical clothing company just seemed like the next logical step…

Describe your making process

It all begins with an idea in my head then playing around with the design on a computer, creating 45 final versions of the design before deciding its complete
rubbish and starting again with a new one! I then embark on the torturous process of deciding on a handful of designs I like enough to put on my clothes.
When that’s done I pay visit to Handprinted where I expose my screens swapping designs in and out until the very last minute. The screens are then
ready to come home to the makeshift studio for printing.

How and where did you learn to design and print clothing?

I don’t really know where I learned to design. I started mucking around with some design software on my year abroad, I had a lot of spare time between
my 12 hours of teaching a week and have been doing it since. I’ve had no official training in it, but I love it, I guess I’ve always been easily offended
by poor design and I know what I like. I learned the basics of printing on an evening course in Leeds in my final year of uni but it wasn’t until I
came down to Handprinted that I had made anything half decent.

Why screen printing?

There’s something really satisfying about screen printing and I think for such a simple process you can make some great looking products. A big factor
for me is that I can use water based inks (Permaset and Permaset Supercover)
which are much better for the environment than horrible plastisol inks or vinyl.

Where do you work (ie where do you print your clothes)?

I currently work from home in Chichester using a homemade press, sofas for drying racks and all sorts of other impractical devices. Its far from ideal
but its certainly warmer than the cold store of a Val d’Isere chalet where I began printing. This month I’m looking to move to a shared studio space
for creative start-ups across the border in Hampshire.

Describe a typical day in your studio.

Any day starts with a surf check, surf takes priority over most things especially as good conditions are so few and far between at the Witterings. But
aside from that, there is no typical day. It depends on online orders and what’s coming up in terms of events. Selling from my reclaimed wooden cart
in Chichester high street in the lead up to Christmas was manic and meant long days of printing, some nights printing until 2am.

How long have you been printmaking?

Its been a year now, not long at all. I did very little following the course I took and only got back into it during my ski season last year. I’m still
doing a lot of learning and Handprinted are very patient with me!

What inspires you?

Everything? Is that too cliché? I see bits of design I like all around me and I try to put it in the context of the things I’m passionate about; the sea,
the mountains and generally having adventures out in nature.

What have you made that you are most proud of?

I’m pretty proud of how all the designs have looked on the clothing and how they’ve been received by my customers, but I know this is just the first line
and I can’t wait to start designing again and to raise the bar.

Where can we see your work? Where do you sell?

You can check out our online shop at or at weekends in Chichester
town centre where I sell from my wooden cart ‘Bertha’ so come and say hello!

What will we be seeing from Gnarly Tree next?

An exciting new range for spring/summer which will be taken to festivals and events all across the UK. I’m working with some fantastic local artists and
designers to create some very good looking threads for the new season.

Do you have any advice for other printmakers, designers and creatives?

Advice… aside from always ask Shirley and Holly, maybe just go for it? Starting a business you’re passionate about is one of the most exciting things
you can do. Its seems like a huge step but there is never a perfect moment to start so yeah, just go for it. Whats the worst that can happen?