Archive for the ‘block printing’ Category

carving sample blog
At Ciara Elend, we use hand-carved linoleum blocks to print our shirts. Here’s a brief explanation of block printing.

In block printing, the printer carves the design to be printed into a solid block, much like a stamp. The block can be applied to paper or textiles. Block printing is an ancient printing technique, and numerous examples of historical block prints can be found in the historical records of Europe and Asia.

The origins of the block print can be found in the round cylinder seals used by the Mesopotamians. Many famous artists, such as Hiroshige, worked in the block print medium. Block prints were also used to produce books and other printed material. Printers quickly learned how to create multi-colored block prints, using blocks with different designs on them which could be used to overlay color.

A complex block for printing could take weeks to carve to perfection. Carvers needed to have an excellent design sense, as the block prints in reverse, meaning that the image needs to be carved in reserve so that it will print the right way. A well-made block print is a stunning work of art, representing hours of labor and a superb visual sense.

Several techniques can be used to create a block print. First, the block is inked with the assistance of a roller. The carved areas will show up as white in the final product, while the raised portions left behind will print. The block can be used to stamp paper, the printer can place paper on the block and rub it, or the block can be mounted in a printing press. Each technique will produce a block print of a slightly different style, and if the block is well cared for, it can be used again and again.

If you want to learn more, check out our How to Block Print booklet.


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Dude, seriously. You can find the coolest sh#t on ebay. I am constantly on the lookout for letterpress items. Here a few awesome items I’ve gotten over the last two months.

This is a handmade press out of nice woods for block printing. It’s so beautiful and finely crafted. The dude who made it took awhile to ship it to me, but it was worth the wait. I just got it today so I haven’t printed anything yet. But I will. It’s so freakin heavy.

This is a vintage letterpress block about 4×6 inches. The image is a reverse of the block because to print correctly images are backwards like rubber stamps. I plan on printing this on shirts and whatnot soon. Won’t it be badass.

This is a mini letterpress that is in great condition. The letters that come with it are super tiny. I want to print postcards or something. I haven’t thought of a project yet, but I will.

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Seriously. Nashville rocks. And Hatch Show Print abso-f#*&ken-lutely rules!

My absolutely favorite time of the weekend was spent at Hatch. We had a great time and I am so inspired. It was everything I dreamed it to be. We met up with the head designer and manager Jim Sherraden and he showed us around. Freakin’ awesome! What a talented bunch of people who are super duper friendly and super mellow. I had to control my energy level so not to scare them. I can get pretty excited. I’m like one of those little dogs who gets too excited and they end up peeing on themselves.

It was so great to hear Jim talk about his monoprints and his process. And I was able to talk to the other artists/printers talk about and show me what they were doing. I wanted to walk around and throw the wood carvings and the metal letterpress letters into my bag, but alas, I did not because that would be so wrong. We were able to see their newest projects in the works and even vintage ones that were being rehashed. We saw the behemoth of letterpress machines working like it does every day since 1942. That machine would last a nuclear attack.

Adam and I bought one of Jim’s mono prints, a whole lot of posters, and souvenirs for friends. I’m posting all the photos here. You have got to go visit if you’re serious about letterpress or block printing. They are the real deal.

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For my block printing classes, I created this How to Block print pocket guide. Well, really I did it because I had about 200 sheets of unusable How to Fondue paper and felt the need to recycle it.  I had a fun time drawing the images and writing up the text–yes, I did draw everything and write everything myself. Then I screenprinted it onto one sheet of paper and folded it into a book. And for the finish, I carved a block to print the cover. I figured I had to incorporate a block print element.

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Adam and I saw Macbeth last night at BAM in Brooklyn. Patrick Steward was a very convincing Macbeth, and the production was so impressive. Instead of doing the traditional Shakespearean location and garb, the play was set in a World War II environment complete with guns, soldiers, nurses, and blood–lots of it.

I had never read Macbeth, but I did study Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet in school. So I  learned to appreciate the Bard and his lyrical prose. But geez, if you haven’t read him in awhile, it’s a literary shock to be immersed in his world. For the first half, I had no idea what anyone was saying. I kept telling myself to imagine this as an Italian opera where gestures and action tell you what is going on. I was so irritated that I didn’t read about Macbeth beforehand so I would at least know the plot. With all the doth, henceforth, and thee exclamations, I was lost.  I was so happy when intermission came because I read as much as I could about the play so I could finally understand it. Of course, I didn’t want to show I didn’t know anything because its such a portentiuos and stuffy atmosphere, I didn’t want to stick out.  Adam did jump to my rescue and explain a few things.

This made me think about high culture and pop culture. I do appreciate such things as fine art and classical music, but I am a pop culture junkie. It’s what I know and understand.  Shakespeare is high culture, but his impact on popular culture is so great; From movies to songs, from fine art to posters, printed books to electronic books.  And most of us don’t even know it because we are so disconnected from the original source.

It made me wonder. How can I pay homage to the Bard in a more accessible way?  And I thought of the dessert signs from a little cafe in little Italy. I could make happy, chipper, easy to swallow designs showcasing his three tragedies Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth. Imagine a Romeo tiramisu or Juliet gelato or a Hamlet tartufo. So I am going to sketch up some ideas and will post them soon.

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On Sunday, Adam and I had a Fondue Party for my birthday. Although, I didn’t tell anyone because I wanted it to be about the food and not me. We had a blast and people loved the goodie bags I made. I had done quite a bit of prep work weeks before the party. One of the things I did was design and screen print pocket-sized How to Fondue books. Well, I’m very new to screen printing and this was my first project. Of course, I had to make my first project a big undertaking. Urgh, I do that all the time. I screen printed about 300 copies to get 50 good ones. And if you understand the process, I had to shoot my screen six times before I got it right and I had to redesign my book because the type was too small, certain lines within my drawing weren’t showing up, etc. Several hours were spent on the prep work before actually printing them. In the end, the book turned out great and it was hit at the party. Everyone got a copy.

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<span style=”color: #888888;”>This Tshirt is no longer available. Ciara ran her clothing company brands <em>Ciara Couture</em> and <em>Queensbound </em>from January 2007 to December 2010. She has ceased all clothing brand operations as of January 1, 2011.</span>

I have always loved the Ampersand sign. Its small but can pack a punch design wise.I made this mixed media piece (and no. I did not make it on the computer–it exists on a 16 x 20 canvas) for our housewarming party. I had a fun time cutting out the paper, but I loved working on the Ampersand. Somehow, Adam and I jokingly talked about naming our next dog Ampersand. We could nickname him And we wouldn’t have to write his name out we just had to write Ciara & Adam. Brilliant!!! Or maybe we had just been drinking a bit too much. I had a better idea. An Ampersand graphic tee.


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