Creating a Portrait Stamp

Making your own stamps is so satisfying. You can build up your own collection of personalised stamps for all of your projects and what’s more personalised that a portrait! These adorable portrait stamps are perfect for your arts business, signing cards and letters, scrapbooks or just for fun! Create a collection of stamps of your friends and family or a self portrait stamp.

In this project we create pairs of portrait stamps to be layered over one another: one for mid tones and one for dark tones and details. If you’d like to make simpler single stamps you can stop after the first one – they’re lovely on their own.

Choose your stamping block – we are using Speedy Carve and Japanese Stamping Block which can both take very fine detail without crumbling and are dreamy to cut.

Begin by taking tracings from a photograph. For the first tracing, don’t worry about the detail, just shade in the mid tone and dark tone areas, leaving the highlights out, like in the image below.

Transfer the tracing to the block by flipping it over and scribbling on the back.

Begin carving by outlining the main shape with a fine tool. Pfeil tools are perfect for these stamps as their blades are precise and sharp. A 12/1 has been used here.

After outlining, carve away the detail. remove any areas that are not shaded.

If creating a multi-layered stamp set, repeat these steps. The tracing this time needs to only be the darkest areas and a few detail lines: the eyes for example. If you are unsure of the final look of the design, err on the side of caution by adding a little more to the second stamp – you can always carve away more later but you cannot add it!

When all the stamps are carved, cut them out with a craft knife. The block should cut through like butter but be careful and use two or three swipes to get through the thickness of the block.

Ink up the stamps with an ink pad. Versacraft pads can be used on paper or fabric, Versafine pads are specifically designed for printing onto paper. Both will work really well. If printing a two layered design, choose a mid toned colour for this layer – cool grey is perfect.

Use a dark colour for the second layer. We’re using a large Versafine Ink Pad in Black which is brilliant.

Japanese stamp pads have a coloured surface and a white centre so it’s easier to see where you’ve carved.

For this project you will need:

Meet the Maker: Claudia Jones

My name is Claudia Jones and I’m an artist from Kingston, Jamaica and I have been living and working in Petworth, West Sussex for the past thirteen years.

How and where did you learn to print?

I learnt print making about five years ago after attending courses with Will Dyke and Hugh Dunford Wood. Although I’m a painter I have always loved block printed images and the immediacy of printmaking.

I enjoy all aspects of printmaking, especially carving the lino.

Where do you work?

Recently I converted my daughters bedroom into my printmaking studio as she has moved back to Jamaica and she no longer needs it.

My other studio, known by the rest of my family as the living room, is where I carve my blocks and paint. 

Describe a typical day in your studio.

     The first thing I start with is mixing the colours. Rarely do I use colour straight from the tube. I like to think I’m creating a new colour, my aim is to make the colours as vibrant as possible. I print as much as I can in the daytime and use the evenings to design and carve the lino.

What inspires you?

     I am inspired by the plants and colours of home. I have many photographs that I’m constantly looking at reminding me of what I love. The light is different in the tropics, also the shape and colours of the plants are more dramatic.

What is your favourite printmaking product?

    I love all my cutting tools but my favourite is the Pfeil cutting tool. I’d love to have the whole set. Good tools make the work much more enjoyable.

What have you made that you are most proud of?

I’m most proud of my recent prints as I have managed to create lino blocks that remind me of my paintings of tropical plants, flowers and birds with their vivid colours.

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

My work is available on my Instagram @ahwhadat as well as several gift shops and galleries in Jamaica.

Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?

     When designing a lino block I start with drawing circles and that gets me on my way. Similarly when printing, squirting out the first colour gets things rolling. My advice would be, don’t overthink it …just have a go.

Making a Triangular Stamped Repeat Pattern

Using an equilateral triangle stamp creates an easily repeatable pattern that builds quickly whilst breaking up the typical grid structure often found in repeat patterns. This project is quick, easy and versatile. It’s important to use an equilateral triangle so that the edges will match up perfectly each time – if the sides are not equal in length the design will not build seamlessly.

Begin by drawing one side of your triangle. Take note of the length of the line. Find the centre point.

Draw a line straight up from the centre point. Make sure that it is at right angles to the first line (using the corner of another piece of paper can help check this).

Use the ruler to draw from the end of the first line up to the second line, making sure it is the same length as the original line.

Repeat on the other side.

You should now have an equilateral triangle.

Cut the triangle out and draw around it onto a piece of stamp block. We are using Speedy Cut Easy.

Carefully cut it out with a scalpel.

Carve a design into the block. We are using an 11/1 Pfeil Tool.

To print onto fabric, pin the fabric out onto a padded surface. Ink up the block by pressing it gently into a Versacraft Stamp Pad.

Press the stamp face down onto fabric to print.

Repeat the stamping process to build up the design. All the sides will match up to build a solid design!

For this project you will need:

Meet the Maker: Alison Butler

I am primarily a textile designer, artist, illustrator and maker.

In my early career, in partnership with a friend I set up and ran Blooming Designs, which was then a successful textile design business selling prints to leading high street fashion chains both in the UK and internationally.

Under the Blooming Designs name, I now produce a range of print items as well as organise and run workshops in batik, block printing, gel printing and still life on the family farm at Meon Springs, including Art in the Barn, a twice yearly Creative Arts Week which I run with fellow artist and maker Liz Wellby. 

Describe your printmaking process.

My work is quite diverse.  I like to experiment with techniques that give instant results. I particularly enjoy block printing onto fabric and cards but I also love transfer printing as you never know what you are going to get. Gelli plate is also a favourite of mine again the results are so instant and effective, you can achieve much in a short space of time!

How and where did you learn to print?

Having dabbled with screen printing on my foundation I chose to study textiles at Loughborough College of Art and Design. I specialised in print design as I found weave and embroidery too labour intensive and I loved the instant results of print so experimented on my course printing my designs for both fashion and furnishings.

Why printmaking?

As a textile designer I have always enjoyed the printing process. I sold my print designs for many years to the fashion market on paper so often you did not get to see them make it onto fabric but  I always liked the idea of producing my designs myself on fabric which is why block printing has been an obvious starting point.

Where do you work?

I work in my home studio which has wonderful views of the farm and my garden. If I am running a small workshop I will do this from my studio but if I am running a larger workshop I will do this from a large thatched barn next to my house which we also use for corporate events.

Describe a typical day in your studio.

I am not sure there is such a thing particularly at the moment with lockdown. With the girls at home, I quite often have company as I have a spare desk which is nice! At the moment our yurts and huts are closed so I am finding that I have more time to spend in my studio. I have been doing quite a lot of drawing as this is important for developing ideas My garden is a huge inspiration to me for my design work and this is my favourite time of year as everything is coming into flower. I have also been doing lots of block printing producing fabrics and gifts for friends and relatives.

How long have you been printmaking?

I have been printmaking for about a year now, I love trying new processes and have done several of your courses which I have enjoyed enormously as I have learnt lots of new techniques to experiment with.

What inspires you?

My main inspiration has always been colour and pattern. As a textile designer I have always been hugely influenced by nature, particularly flowers as these obviously feature heavily in textile design. I have always taken inspiration from vintage textiles, silk designs and Indian block prints as well as designs from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Everything is so instant now, we used to have to trawl through designs books and magazines to find ideas but now you just press a button and you have so much at your disposal instantly! Exhibitions are also a huge source of inspiration and we are lucky that we live so close to many lovely galleries, I have also been enjoying the online exhibitions that are available at the moment.

What is your favourite printmaking product?

At the moment my Indian wood blocks are my favourite printmaking product, I bought them in Cochin a few years ago and have used them for inspiration for my own block prints. I have also just made myself a fabric printing pad which has made printing so much easier.

What have you made that you are most proud of?

 That is a tricky one, I think you are always looking to improve on your last piece as this keeps you moving forward to the next stage, everything is work in progress. The great thing about the printing process is you can repeat what you have done again and again. I think is healthy to not be too precious about what you produce, there is always lots more waiting to be created!

Where can we see your work?

 My work is on social media, Instagram and Facebook 

Where do you sell? 

 I  have a website where I sell the art courses, at the moment I work to commission as my work is generally one-off pieces though I am looking to produce larger quantities.

What will we be seeing from you next?

I was really disappointed to postpone our Spring Art in the Barn series of workshops due to the Coronavirus, but hope to have the green light soon so that I can make our Autumn series of workshops running from the 8th – 13th October even more special.

I also hope to develop my block printing as well as experimenting some more with transfer printing and kitchen table lithography.

Do you have any advice for other printmakers and creatives?

Don’t be afraid to try something new, there are some great workshops out there that can teach you exciting new skills.  Instagram and Pinterest are great sources of inspiration as are exhibitions, it’s really fun to see what other people are up to particularly if you are not working in an environment with other artists.

See more from Alison at or on Instagram.

Upcycle a T-Shirt into a Reusable Tote Bag using Fabric Paints

This is a quick, no-sew method for turning an old t-shirt into a reusable tote bag. Use Handprinted Fabric Paints to create your own design. Take your bags shopping to carry loose fruits and veggies or to the beach with your suncream and towel!

Start with a t-shirt – any will do. The fabric paints we will be using are translucent so work best on pale-coloured fabrics.

Draw a deeper U shape around the neck and cut it out with fabric scissors.

Cut off the sleeves.

We will be using the bottom section to cut tassels to secure the bag. Mark off 2 or 3 inches along the bottom so you can keep the main design off this area.

Place a few sheets of magazine paper inside the t-shirt to stop any paint from going through the fabric onto the back.

Use Handprinted Fabric Paints to create the design. Remember that the paints are translucent so the t-shirt colour will show through. Choose colours that will work well on the t-shirt you’re using. Stronger colours will go over this pink best. Test the paints on the offcuts of fabric to check.

We are using Sea Green and Dark Turquoise.

Draw the design faintly with pencil and then paint onto the fabric.

After painting the Sea Green and Dark Turquoise, we added Mixing White to create swirls over the Earth. Mixing White is translucent and so mixes with the other colours beautifully. Opaque White could be used instead if you want a brighter white in your design.

We also painted a row along the bottom of the t-shirt. This will add a pop of colour to some of the tassels when the bag is done.

When the paint is dry, you could paint the back too!

When both sides are dry, iron all over the design to heat-set the paint. Use a dry iron on a hot setting suitable for the fabric until the design feels hot to the touch.

Use fabric scissors to slip the bottom of the t-shirt into strips up to the line we drew earlier. Tie each pair of strips in a knot to seal the bottom of the bag.

For this project you will need: