Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Printer Blocks and Watercolors


Printer Blocks and Watercolors
Handmade Cards


The photo above shows cards made from watercolor paint and antique hand carved printer blocks.  My son and daughter in law gave me these printer blocks in the photo above for Christmas.

 Before I start with instructions on how to use printer blocks and watercolor paints to make cards, I wanted to provide a little background on the process.

 Just a little history of woodblock/woodcut printing:
Woodblock printing is a technique for printing text, images or patterns on either cloth or paper.  This technique was used widely through East Asia and originated in China.  The earliest examples of woodblock printing on cloth are from China and date back to before 220 AD.   Woodblock printing remained the most common method of printing books and other texts in East Asian until the 19th century. 

 Woodcut is the term applied to the relief printing technique in Europe.  An artist carves an image into the surface of a block of wood, typically with gouges, leaving the printing parts level with the surface while removing the non-printing parts.  Areas that the artist cuts away carry no ink, while images at surface level carry the ink to produce the print.  The block is cut along the grain of the wood.  The surface is covered with ink or paint and then applied to the paper or cloth.  

 There are two basic methods of using woodblock/woodcuts for printing:

·       Stamping:  This method is used for many fabrics and most European woodcuts (between 1400 – 1440).  In this method the design is printed by putting the paper or fabric on a table or flat surface with the block on top and pressing or hammering the back of the block. 

·       Rubbing:  This was apparently the most common method for Far Eastern printing on paper at all times.  It was also used for European woodcuts and block printing later in the 15th century and used widely for cloth.  This method is also used for many Western woodcuts from about 1910 to the present day.  The block goes face up on a table, with the paper or fabric on top.  The back is rubbed with a hard pad, a flat piece of wood, or a burnisher to transfer the print to the cloth or paper.  

 I used the stamping method in printing my cards.

 Now, for the reason for my blog…..painting instructions!

 Materials Needed:
140# Watercolor paper – I use Arches brand paper
Envelops for the finished cards
Large Flat brush
Round brush
Liner brush

Watercolors:  Colors of your choice - I used primary colors and varied the intensity.
Acrylic paint – black  

Card Size and Setup:
It will be necessary to determine the size of the finished cards at this time in order to set up the paper efficiently.    This will be determined by preference along with the size of the envelops you have for the cards. 

I wanted a deckled edge on the front of the card.    A deckled edge is a rough cut edge rather than a smooth one.  Refer to the edges of the cards in the photo above.

How to deckled the edge of watercolor paper:
It is simple to deckle the edge of heavy weight watercolor paper.  The paper is simply torn by hand while moving the hand slightly to the left and right to make the edge uneven.  One can also purchase a yardstick with a deckled edge to assist when deckling large pieces of paper. 

 The watercolor paper is taped to the painting board on all four edges.  Measure and using a pencil draw lines on the paper the shape/size of the cards. 

 Tape as follows:
·       Tape a line to divide the back section of the card which will not be painted.
·       Tape along the front edge of the card allowing the deckled edge to remain white. 
·       Tape the sides of the paper to hold in place.  This edge will be one side of two of the cards and the white section will be cut off when complete.  Be certain to take this in to account when determining the width of each card. 

Instructions - How to Paint the Cards:

Card Background
Prepare a wash of the paints you plan to use.  We will be painting wet on wet.  Wet the paper with clean water and paint with the colors you selected.  I used yellow for my background and dropped in various colors.  Refer to the photo above.  Allow to dry.  

Block Printing:
Apply black acrylic paint to the designed side of the woodblocks.  Press the blocks on the painted paper in an arrangement to your liking.   Allow to dry. 

Practice first on scrape pieces of paper to determine the amount of paint to apply and the pressure needed.  This will help prevent disappointment on the painted paper. 

Finishing touches:
I painted a few springs of grass with a liner brush and black paint around the designs. 

 Preparing the cards:
After all the paint has dried, remove the tape from around the edges.  Following the pencil line you drew during setup, use a yardstick and a utility knife to cut the cards apart.  Fold the cards in half along the center edge.  The center edge will be easy to determine, thanks to the clean edge made by the masking tape during setup.  I used a metal ruler to press down the edges of the cards on the fold. 

 Feel free to sign the front of the cards or the back and enjoy sending personalized greeting cards for birthdays, get well wishes, etc.!

 Happy Painting!


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