I recently took a block printing class, and despite my obsessive compulsive tendencies getting in the way of carving a perfect block, I learned a lot about the process and my work habits, too.
One of the most important things I learned about my own making adventures has to do with how much I have changed perspective throughout the years about what I’m creating, why I’m creating it, and how I’m creating it. When I was a teenager and in my early twenties, I desired to make certain things. The end product was what I coveted and I would learn whatever skills were needed to create that thing. And while I learned a whole bunch during the process, I didn’t focus on process.
This fabric block printing class showed me how much I’ve changed. While most in the class had a concrete idea of what they wanted to make and why they were taking the class (“I want to make hand printed napkins for my Thanksgiving table”, for instance), when it came time for me to share I hadn’t a plan in mind–I just wanted to gain the skills and come up with the ideas later.
I think I spent as much time in my sketchbook coming up with ideas as I did carving and printing on muslin.
This type of printing is pretty meditative. As a child, I loved stamping and took a number of classes, became and embossing expert, and developed a pretty robust set of stamps. Now, I can make those stamps.
And while my initial block featured a really small pattern that was hard to execute on the first go around, I learned a lot about manipulating the materials to do what you want and need. It’s challenging. But I think I’m going to do more of this.
Have you ever tried fabric block printing? What have you created?