Multi Block Printing on Fabric with Easy Carve

This project uses just one block of Easy Carve to create a two colour block print on fabric. This is an adaptable technique that will have you printing yardage in
no time!

Start by drawing your design out onto a piece of Easy Carve. Try using a pencil to map out your image and then a permanent pen to finalise your lines.

Use a V tool to go round all the edges of your shapes and to carve out the finer detail.

Use a shallow U tool to clear larger areas and the background. Don’t worry about carving out the whole background as we are going to remove most of it in a few steps time…

Use a scalpel to divide the block into pieces that will be printed different colours. In this case we want a separate plant and pot. The Easy Carve cuts easily without having to apply too much pressure.

Cut out the bits of your background that you don’t need. The shaped block will also help you to see where you are printing on your fabric.

Mix your favourite colours from Speedball Screen Printing Inks for Fabric. Note we are using screen printing inks for block printing – they produce a soft handle
and washable colour on the fabric.

Roll out your colour using a Sponge Roller. A solid roller will
slide around in the ink and you will not get even coverage.

Roll your ink onto your first block.

Press your block face down onto your fabric and press down hard all over it. We used a masking tape line as a guide to keep our prints straight. We always
recommend that you use a slightly padded surface when printing onto fabric to ensure even prints. A piece of board covered tightly with a blanket and
topped with fabric works well.

Re-ink your block and repeat the process alongside your last print.

Use another masking tape guide to mark the next row, using a piece of Easy Carve to make sure your whole block will fit. Be sure to remove your previous
piece of tape first.

Print rows of your first block. We printed them in brick fashion to add a little more interest.

Mix a second colour and ink up your second block.

You should be able to see where the new block fits into the first block’s print (this is the part that I managed to cover up with my hand here…)

Fill in the gaps along the whole fabric to finish your print. When your prints are dry, iron the fabric on a hot setting to fix your ink. Your fabric will
then be washable.

To print your own fabric you will need:

Meet the Maker: Eric Gaskell

I’m Eric Gaskell, born in Wigan, going through school in 60’s and 70’s. I was always good at drawing but only really finding out about art as a 17 year
old sixth former. Before then I’d never heard of even Van Gogh or Picasso (let alone anyone else). For the last 37 years, since leaving art college,
I have been making “things” for myself, other people, publishers and companies in one way or another. Illustrations, graphics, typography, design and
art. I have always made the effort to draw, whatever else was happening, and whenever possible to exhibit work in open, group and one-man shows.

Describe your printmaking process.

Drawing. Then more drawing. Depending on the “idea”or the motif that would be drawing from life or drawing entirely from my head. This means some of my
work is quite abstracted (with no particular idea of how the print will develop) and some very figurative. But it all starts with drawing. When I have
“sort of” got something I can work with I transfer to a block, that could mean a highly detailed drawing or it could be a very loose set of boundaries.
I try to decide in advance if it will be a reduction or a multi-block linocut but more often than not I will go for a multi-block, which means I can
leave open the option of a reduction as well. Annoyingly this path often leads to confusion and progression dilemma. Whether it is highly figurative
or very loose I will always transfer the key block (whether that has lots of info or little) to the other blocks, at least this way I know they will
register. With highly figurative work it is around now that I will give each block its colour ways (on the understanding that they could change). From
here on out it is more a matter of flying by-the-seat-of-my-pants, however I do always proof on a very regular basis, probably a little too much sometimes.
It’s only by this constant proofing that I can work out the next sets of cuts, it’s a bit like playing chess and being aware of the next 5 or 6 moves
ahead. Here is why making multi-block, reduction print (which is how the majority of mine end up) can be problematic. As you cut less from each block,
than a typical one-block reduction, your options are always open. So knowing when to finish can be difficult. In the end you do though, generally because
I put it to one side and don’t do anymore for a month or so.

How and where did you learn to print?

I went to Wigan College of Art where, when we did any printmaking it was principally intaglio. It was also a bit ad hoc, I don’t remember a lecturer being
there very often so we would mix our own acids until there was a pungent green smoke. When I moved to Sunderland Art College the print rooms were a
lot more professional, certainly not as relaxed as Wigan. I spent my time split between painting and intaglio/linocut. The head of printmaking Dave
Gormley was brilliant, he was very good at prompting you to push your work, quick to questions your motives and technical skills but always there to
add comments about the best way to achieve something. Although mainly linocut/etching I did dabble in typography (producing a small book), litho and
engraving, but always went back to lino.

Why printmaking?

I am one of those printmakers who actually is a painter, who also makes prints. My working process tends to push me toward bright, graphic shapes and compositions
which can be developed in either discipline. Most of the time it ends up as print – but sometimes it goes down both avenues.

Where do you work?

In my studio at home which is big enough “just”, to print and paint. My painting area was the bigger, but over the years that has shrunk as printing took

Describe a typical day in your studio.

Generally the first thing I do is check my emails – just in case I have sold something (which I do amazingly) and check out the world. I usually have some
form of work on the go, so I will generally take time to see where I up to with those pieces. That could be either print or paint as I usually work
on both at the same time, often the same motif crossing from one to the other. I try to spit my time between printmaking and drawing (painting fits
in there, but not as much) so while I am waiting for colours to dry, or for some form of inspiration about what to do next, I will draw. Often that
will mean leaving the studio to draw in front of the motif, sometimes it is drawing from drawings, to work out what either the next step in the print
or painting is or to push forward an new work. I spend an inordinate amount of time prevaricating through drawing, looking at new angles, new shapes,
marks, textures etc. Sometimes they do actually get used, most of the time they are added to 1000’s of drawings that time forgot. I don’t have a set
time for doing things as such, but I do try to have a couple of prints going at the same time. That means I try to get two colours a day on each. Clearly
that leaves time for the multitude of other things like; drawing, vacuuming (it has to be done), eating and most important of all – daydreaming.

How long have you been printmaking?

The very first “real” print I made, with real tools, in a print-room was in 1976. Before that I couldn’t really say that any printmaking I made at school
was done properly.

What inspires you?

Apart from a list of painters/printmakers as long as my arm, generally the world around me. I am principally a figurative artist, so the majority of my
drawings are from life, which get transferred and many times lose their “reality” in the print process. For many years what I has really inspired me
are man-made structures, things with angles and shadows. Which is why I like the canals, they are man-made but also have the benefit of water which
adds a separate dimension.

Having said all that I have for around 10 years been making work based on my genealogical research. I’ve even managed to have several one-man shows of
the work around the UK. This is a very different type of work, based on shape, iconography, abstracted colour and often – text.

What is your favourite printmaking product?

That is really tricky as without good tools, ink and paper I wouldn’t be able to do anything. But the two things I use a lot at the moment are extender/water-soluble
vehicles which let me play around with colours and newsprint which lets me soak up colours to produce subtle tints.

What have you made that you are most proud of?

From a printmaking point of view there are two things fairly recently, one “Narrowboat” because it was commercially successful and I actually sold out
the edition very quickly. The other a triptych “Rugby School 1, 2, 3” because it was a departure from work I had been doing (and in effect closer to
my drawing/painting) and commercially the opposite of the other print.

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

I try to show work several times during the year, in one-man shows and often in group shows (with the Printmakers Council and SGFA). I do have work in
galleries (which sadly come and go) and at the moment have work in The Fosse House Gallery in Dunchurch, The Pump Rooms in Leamington Spa and Audlem
Mill in Audlem.

Ellesmere Port Museum: 11 May – 9 July

The Glass Museum, St Helens: 11 Nov – 12 Jan

I am fairly mobile and teach linocut to any group that would like me to, so I have taught in Cheshire, Stoke, Coventry and to numerous small groups locally.
I also open up my own studio to groups of 3-4. I have in the past taught in Art Colleges, but recently teach regular classes in Rugby at The Percival
Guildhouse and to an Art Society in Weedon. If anyone would like me to do the same just email me.

What will we be seeing from you next?

The work I am making at the moment is moving away from the three-dimensional reality of previous work, toward a more stylised view of – in this case –
tumbling water, something I have played with a lot. That of course doesn’t mean that in the future I won’t be bouncing back and forth between reality
and abstraction.

Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?

Whenever I am asked this the most important thing I can say is – draw. Often the reply is, “I can’t draw” my answer is, It doesn’t really matter if you
can or can’t. Fundamentally the art of drawing is the act of seeing. To draw well you need to look a lot, most people give the world a casual glance,
they don’t really “see” it. Drawing also lets you develop ideas, it lets you experiment with mark-making, texture and composition and all very quickly.
If after you have made all those squiggles, and dots and marks and you still want to be able to draw, in an academic way – then take classes, but never
think that in order to make an interesting/engaging linocut that you need to be able draw at a very advanced level.


To see more of Eric’s fantastic work, visit his website.

Carve a Stamp Kit

This is Maisie on work experience at Handprinted. Shirley and Holly have very kindly let me try out this Carve a Stamp Kit and write about my thoughts on it. The kit contains: An ink pad, carving tools (1 V shape fine tool and another
V shape wider tool) and 5 blank stamps.

This new product uses a simple technique that produces effective results. The product is reasonably priced at £12.99 including everything you need to produce
many prints. It is a great gift idea for birthday presents or just if you are feeling creative.

You can print on plain wrapping paper to give it your own unique style. You can also be inventive with what you choose to print on. For example, present
labels, cards, envelopes and scrap book covers.

Step 1: Design the stamp.

Firstly, place the rubber on a piece of paper and draw around it so you know the size that your design needs to be. Then, draw your design in the box.

You could write a message, symbol or image.

Step 2: Draw your design onto the stamp.

You could use carbon paper or tracing paper to get the design exactly the same to your drawing or you could draw it free hand.

Step 3: Carve the stamp.

Holding the tool at a low angle, carefully carve away the areas of the stamp that you don’t want to print. There are 2 carving tools that you can use.
The finer V shape tool should be used for smaller detailed areas and the wider V shape tool should be used to clear away larger areas.

Step 4: Print the stamp.

Make sure that you generously cover the stamp as you don’t want it to be patchy. It should shine when you tilt the stamp like the image below. Then press
down firmly onto the material of your choice.

These are all 5 of my stamps.

And that’s it! 4 easy steps for creating your own stamps. The Carve a Stamp Kit is an easy way to add that homemade touch.

Testing the Differences Between Lino Blocks

Here at Handprinted we are always getting asked to explain the difference between all the lino relief blocks available. It can be very confusing knowing
whether to choose traditional lino or try an alternative such as Softcut or Vinyl.

To help you decide on the right material for you, we’ve tested five different blocks in a variety of ways such as cutting fine lines and ink application
and posted our findings below. At the bottom of the page we’ve summarised each material to help you make an informed choice.

Blocks tested:

Traditional Lino
hessian backed grey lino

Softcut – a softer, smooth rubber-like material

Easy Carve
dark grey, soft carving material

Transparent Block – a see-through plastic carving material

Japanese Vinyl – double sided material that is blue on one side, green on the other and black in the middle

All of the blocks were fresh and tested with our versatile Japanese Cutting Tools which are inexpensive and cut very well.

Cutting Fine Lines

We used the V tool from our set to test how easy it was to cut very fine lines into the blocks.

Traditional Lino – When pressing fairly firmly a very fine line can be achieved by skimming the V tool across the surface

Softcut –Very easy to cut fine lines with less pressure needed than on lino

Easy Carve –As with softcut, very fine lines achieved easily

Transparent Block – Very fine lines can be achieved but are a little harder to control as more pressure is needed

Japanese Vinyl – Very fine lines can be carved easily but are too shallow to reach the black middle layer and so are not as clear to see

Cutting Curves


Traditional Lino – Smooth curves can be achieved but it’s a little tricky and needs practice

Softcut – Easy to cut, smooth curves, steeper curves can become a little jagged

Easy Carve – As with Softcut, curves are easy to cut but steeper curves can become a little jagged

Transparent Block – Stiffer to cut a curve and slightly harder to control

Japanese Vinyl – As with Softcut and Easy Carve, curves are easy to cut but steep curves can come out a little jagged if rushing!



The large, shallow U tool was used to clear a larger area of the blocks.

Traditional Lino – Easy to clear large areas

Softcut – Easy to clear but with a little bit of stretch when pushing the tools

Easy Carve – Easy to clear

Transparent Block – More pressure needed and a little slippy but clears well

Japanese Vinyl – Easy to clean and the black middle layer makes it very easy to see where you have cut deep enough


Cutting Edges

With the large U tool we carved to the edges of the materials to see how they behaved.

Traditional Lino – Easy to control when carving edges and close to the edge with a little pressure

Softcut – Easy to carve to the edges with less pressure but the slight stretch leaves a slightly raised edge that needs to be cut

Easy Carve – Easy and controlled to cut to the edges

Transparent Block – Stiffer and a little harder to control, left a slight raised edge as with the Softcut

Japanese Vinyl – Easy to cut to the edges, clear to see and controllable with not too much pressure needed


Drawing your Design

We tested three ways of drawing a design onto the blocks: with a white pencil, an HB pencil and a Sharpie permanent marker.


Traditional Lino – Can see both white pencil and HB pencil clearly

Softcut –  Cannot see the white pencil, can see the HB pencil softly

Easy Carve – Can see both pencils in the right light

Transparent Block – Neither show

Japanese Vinyl – HB pencil shows, white pencil does not

Sharpie permanent marker can be used on any of the materials. The pen must be left to dry for a few seconds or it may smudge. It is worth noting that the
inside of the Japanese Vinyl is black so if using a black pen to mark a drawing, it may be a little confusing to see where you have cut. Another colour
would be better.

Transfer Paper or carbon paper can also be used to transfer a design. This works extremely well on Traditional Lino and quite well on Vinyl. The
design can be seen slightly on Transparent Block but not at all on Softcut or Easy Carve.


Cutting with a Scalpel

Sometimes you need to trim a block down to the correct size or shape. We tested how easy this was to do on each of the blocks with a scalpel.

Traditional Lino – 7 cuts needed to get through the block with quite a bit of pressure but easy to control

Softcut – Easy to cut in only 2 cuts

Easy Carve –  Easy to cut in 4 cuts

Transparent Block – Harder to cut a straight line, 5 cuts needed

Japanese Vinyl –  Harder to cut straight, 6 cuts needed



Ink Application

We tested each of the blocks for ink application using Cranfield Water-Based Inks.

All of the blocks covered easily in an even layer of ink with no separation or slippage.

All Five Materials Overall

Traditional Linopleasing
to cut, lovely detail and very controllable. Easy to draw onto with white pencil, HB, pen or transfer paper. A little more pressure is needed when
cutting, especially when the lino is very cold. Fresh lino is a lot better than old lino which will dry out and become crumbly. The edges snap off
when the cutting tool is flicked upwards to create a lovely edge to your marks. This seems unique to lino – when carving other materials, the tool
needs to be raised up through the surface to end your marks.

easy to carve with less pressure needed. Good for those with a little less strength or for younger printmakers. There’s a little bit of stretch when
cutting which can affect the edges slightly but does not crumble. Carve on the smooth side not the rough.

Easy CarvePleasing
to carve with less pressure needed than with traditional lino but a little more than with Softcut. Similar to Softcut with no crumble but with less

Transparent BlockA
little firmer to cut and slightly harder to control. It can be tricky to see where you have carved but the transparent quality of this material is
really useful when registering prints and when tracing designs onto the block. Brilliant for multi-layered prints but not as pleasing to carve as the
other materials. Does not crumble.

Japanese VinylPleasing
to carve with slightly less pressure needed than with traditional lino. Does not crumble. Either side can be used (the blue or the green). Potentially
both sides can be used for a multi-layered print as long as large areas do not need to be cleared as they may affect the pressure. The black middle
layer is very useful as it allows you to see where you have carved (as long as you cut deep enough!)