Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tuestorial: Holiday Table Runner

This week Frances Marin is guest blogging for Tuestorial and showing us how to make a unique Holiday table runner using block printing. You might remember Frances from her Rickshaw Bags entry where she used the same process to make an awesome design. Be sure to visit her Etsy shop to see new textiles she is debuting during the Holidays!

What better way to warm up your Holiday dinners and conversation than with a handmade table runner? Whether on a coffee or dinner table, block printing is a perfect way to spruce up your Holiday decor. Anyone can do it and you can easily include your friends or kids in the process. While I'm showing you how to make a table runner, you could also create personalized placemats, napkins or even a wall hanging!

This tutorial shows one way to dye and block print, but there are many ways to do it!  You can sew up the edges of the fabric or leave them raw. You can dye the fabric naturally with flowers, tea or coffee. You can also keep the fabric in its raw, natural state. For ease with children, you can carve potatoes instead of stamps, stamp with corks and other household objects, hand paint or stamp words…the possibilities are endless!

I will show you how to make a more modern piece with an almost tie-dyed look. I would like to encourage experimentation with this project. Let your mishaps be part of the beauty! Feel free to also share your own ideas below in the comments.
Original drawing by Frances. So talented!
Materials Needed:

For Dyeing: 
  • Tongs
  • Buckets or pots
  • Hot water
  • Fabric dye – store bought or natural
  • String or laundry line
  • Gloves
  • Laundry clips/clothespins

For Printing:
  • Linoleum or rubber blocks (or random objects from around the house: corks, paper towel tubes, etc.)
  • Linoleum carving knife
  • Tracing paper (for drawing your block designs)
  • Pencil (B type, avoid H since it will tear your tracing paper)
  • Fabric (canvas or other durable, natural material is my preference – enough for your runner, though you may want to have a few small swatches to test out dye colors)
  • Block printing or screen print fabric paint
  • Sheet of glass (I take one temporarily out of a picture frame) or plastic tray
  • Rubber ink brayer (you can also use a paint brush to hand paint the block each time you stamp)
  • Iron
 *If you choose to use raw canvas or other natural fabric, you only need the materials listed above ‘For Printing.’
Great stress relief, ripping your fabric!       
Step One:
Measure your piece of canvas, but measure it oversized since it will shrink a bit when you dye it/wash it.  You can always cut and tear it down further after dyeing and washing. When you are sure about the size, snip at the desired length with scissors and then confidently tear the fabric with your hands. It will rip easily and straight for a nice and even frayed edge (plus a great sound effect!).

Dying fabric with Rit
Step Two:
If you choose to dye your fabric, stay here. Otherwise, head down to Step Four.

Follow the directions of your fabric dye. Here, I used Rit Liquid Dyes which requires hot water.  Add the dye color a little at a time if you are going to mix or want the color to be lighter. If you chose to cut down small swatches of fabric, you can test out colors beforehand and easily discard if it turns out to be something you really don’t like. Once you get the color you want, add your main fabric and agitate until you get the color desired (still following your particular dye instructions).

Step Three:
Rinse and wash the fabric then hang dry with your line and laundry clips.

Frances rocking her drawing skills!
Step Four:
If you choose to use random materials from your home to print with, rather than traditional carving blocks, skip to Step Six.

Grab your linoleum or rubber block. You can draw directly on the block or you can draw out your design on tracing paper with a dark pencil first. The second method works great if you want to write something because, remember, stamps print in reverse! If you use words or have a preference for which direction your image goes, take this into consideration. If you draw on tracing paper first, you simply place the pencil-side down on the block and use your pencil again on the backside to trace over the drawing to transfer the design onto the block. For this project, I find it prettiest to create a really simple and natural design.
Block time!
Step Five:
Carve your linoleum or rubber blocks. Start slowly if you have not done it before, just to get used to the carving knife, and always cut your children’s designs for them.

Step Six:
Iron your main fabric.

Ready to use the awesome stamp you just made! 
Step Seven:
Grab your piece of glass, your brayer and choose a block printing ink color to test out your block on an extra piece of fabric. Different types of ink may be more or less transparent, so it is good to get to know the material at this point. Dispense a tablespoon or so of paint and use your brayer to roll the ink out flat. It should cover the glass surface and you should hear a nice sticky sound once it is ready. If you are mixing unique colors, be sure you make enough ink on the side if you want the color to be consistent.

Test your print! Roll the ink across your block a few times until evenly covered, position and press onto fabric (if you are using random materials, just dip directly into paint and press onto fabric). I often grab a second brayer to press down on the back of the block.

Step Eight:
Start printing the real deal! Does it look somewhat even? Can you see all the details? You can always go back and carve your design more deeply or use more or less ink. Otherwise, note that the varying texture that comes with block printing by hand is so beautiful. That’s why you are not heading to a big box store to buy machine-made printed linens, right? Embrace the character of block printing!

Time to show off your table runner!
Step Nine:
Enjoy your Holidays with your new, handmade table runner!

If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact Katy or Steph about joining SFEtsy!


amber.threads said...

thanks for sharing! Great tute! I'm gonna try it out!

Frances Marin said...

Thank you amber.threads! Please let me know if you have any questions!

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