How to block print with a wood block stamp (wood print block) like a traditional indian artisan
Block Print with a Wood Block Stamp (Wood
Print Block) like a traditional Indian Artisan
Adapt traditional Indian block printing Wood Block Stamp (also called a “wood
techniques with modern supplies stocked in print block”)
your own cupboard. Make the process eco-
friendly by conserving water, using organic Fabric to be printed
cotton, sourcing fair trade wood block stamps,
and using the sun to dry your unique prints. Fabric Dye (such as RIT liquid dye)
All materials can be sourced locally or online A piece of cardboard as wide as your
from US retailers, minimizing your carbon fabric
footprint. Best of all, it decreases the use of
toxic dye and sweat shop labor practices in Small plastic container to hold the dye
many Indian factories.
Vinegar (to set the dye)
Prep the Fabric
1. Iron your fabric to remove all the
2. Tape the fabric edges to the piece of
cardboard. This has a couple of
purposes: it keeps the fabric from
ﬂapping in the wind if you print outside.
It ensures there are no wrinkles in your
printing surface. And it gives a slight
“cushion” for the stamp which makes a
Make A Custom “Ink Pad”
3. Measure about 4 tablespoons of fabric
dye into your plastic container (or
4. Take 3 paper towels and fold them in half
so they’re doubly thick. Press them into
the dye. When they’ve soaked up most
of the dye, grab the ends and ﬂip it over.
This is your ink pad.
Print Your Fabric
5. Press your wood block stamp into the
ink pad. Rock the stamp back and forth
to make sure dye gets on all parts of the
stamp. This is especially important for
large stamps with a lot of detail -
otherwise the peacock’s wings will be
light and feathery while its tail and
head will be dark black. (You may wish
to wear a pair of rubber gloves.)
6. Place the stamp where you want it on the
fabric. To get the best impression, give
it a sharp whack with the heel of your
hand (Indian technique), tap it with a
hammer (Montana-style) or lean on it
with your whole body (kids’ version).
This helps complicated designs print
evenly, and is very important for large
Tips & Technique
7. Traditional prints repeat over the entire
length of the fabric. For larger,
complicated stamps, the patterns might
even overlap. Traditional Wood Block
Stamps have “markers” (such as the
peacock’s tail or ﬂower’s stem) which
are used to repeat the pattern. Indian
print masters use these marketers to
create symmetrical patterns.
8. Re-apply ink after each print. Your ink
pad will last for about 20-30 prints of
the large stamps, and twice that many
for the small stamps. When your print
starts to get a little faint, ﬂip the pad
over. When you run out of dye on both
sides, pour 1-2 tablespoons of dye
directly onto the paper towels to
“refresh” your pad.
Finish It Up
9. After you’ve ﬁnished printing, spread
your fabric in the sun to let the dye dry.
Do NOT put it in the dryer - the dye is
not yet set and may leave a stain.
10. To clean up, wash the stamps in a
bucket of cold water. Rub them with
your hand (or a brush) to get off the
excess dye. Keep rinsing until the water
you pour over them runs clear. They
will be permanently “antiqued” the
color of the dye, however don’t worry -
you can use a different color dye next
time. Make sure they are completely
dry before you put them away -
otherwise they will develop mold.
Stored dry they should last for years.
Set The Print
11. After the dye on your fabric dries,
wring your fabric in cold water to wash
out any excess dye. The water will turn
the color of the dye, so don’t let the
fabric soak! Pour out the dyed water
and repeat the process until the water is
12. To set the print permanently, pour
about 2 cups of vinegar into a fresh
bucket of cold water. The water should
be completely clear. Let the fabric soak
for 15-20 minutes.
13. Finally, hang your fabric up to dry.
Make sure to wash your new fabric once
or twice by itself before combining it
with your clothes - you don’t want to
accidentally tie-dye your white undies.
After that, wash and dry normally.
Buy Wood Block Stamps online at
A Trade For A Trade.com
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