Intro to Block Printmaking: Create a Set of Greeting Cards | Liz Brindley | Skillshare

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Intro to Block Printmaking: Create a Set of Greeting Cards

teacher avatar Liz Brindley, Illustrator

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

17 Lessons (2h 39m)
    • 1. Welcome!

    • 2. Gather Your Materials

    • 3. Your Class Project

    • 4. Discover Block Printing Benefits

    • 5. Gather Inspiration

    • 6. Create Your Design Sketches

    • 7. Add Texture

    • 8. Make Your Map

    • 9. Transfer Your Design

    • 10. Carve Your Block

    • 11. What to Do About Mistakes

    • 12. Ink & Print Your Block

    • 13. Clean Up

    • 14. Share Your Work

    • 15. Thank You & Next Steps!

    • 16. What's Next?

    • 17. BONUS: An Honest Review of 9 Printmaking Blocks

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About This Class

In this Introduction to Block Printing Class, you will learn how to use this craft to create a set of hand-printed greeting cards! Block printing is a beautiful art form because of its graphic quality, flat design, and handmade feel. Plus, it’s a super fun skill to learn if you are looking for a new, engaging and simple creative practice.

This class is for total beginners. If you’ve never touched a printmaking block, carving tool, or ink then this class is for you!

I'm Liz, your instructor teaching from my studio in sunny New Mexico! I'm primarily an illustrator, but my creative journey started with printmaking. This art form has had a huge impact on my creative practice and the artwork I continue to create through my creative business, Prints & Plants.

Now, I'm so excited to share this beautiful creative practice with you. 

In This Class, You'll Learn How to:

  • create a set of hand-printed greeting cards.
  • create single color block prints.
  • create sketches that translate beautifully into a block print design.
  • transfer your design to a block with my favorite, simple method.
  • carve printmaking blocks safely, smoothly, and effectively.
  • use your carving tool to carve with different techniques.
  • add intentional texture to your block and design.
  • use best practices for inking and printing your block and cards.


You'll Walk Away From This Class With:

  • a set of hand-printed greeting cards to send to loved ones.
  • an appreciation for block printing as an art form.
  • a solid knowledge of how to create a single-color block print.
  • a new creative skill.
  • new perspectives that can influence your current creative practice. 

What You Need:

(This list is also in the Resources document in the Projects & Resources section. The materials list contains affiliate links that I believe in):

If you'd like to order my favorite specific tools, here they are:

 Get Social!

Share your journey! Snap a photo as you work your way through this class, and when you finish your beautiful greeting cards! Share your photos to Instagram for a chance to be featured on the Prints & Plants account. Be sure to tag @prints_and_plants and #printwithliz so I can see your beautiful work and cheer you on! 

Ready to Dive Deeper?

Download your free set of block printing templates here:

Download Templates

Join the Prints & Plants Table for weekly creative inspiration here:

Join the Table

Take my “Beginner’s Guide to Fabric Printing” class here on Skillshare:

Beginner’s Guide to Fabric Printing

And dig into more Fine Art classes here:

Meet Your Teacher

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Liz Brindley


Top Teacher



I'm a Food Illustrator in Northern New Mexico. Most days you can find me creating illustrations for clients, teaching online creative classes, cooking up meals with lots of local produce, or exploring local farms for inspiration.


I believe that creativity can give us a greater sense of awareness, peace, and mindfulness for the everyday joys in life. Whether you express your creativity through painting, drawing, cooking, dancing, singing, or raising a family, I believe that we each have creative contributions to give to this world.


My hope is to give you the tools and skills to express your creativity with confidence so that you, too, can share your vision and cra... See full profile

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1. Welcome!: Hey, I'm Liz. I'm an illustrator in New Mexico and I'm so excited to welcome you to the studio for today's class. Block printing was one of my earliest creative practices and it has helped me to think about line and shape and color in totally new ways and in ways that now significantly influence my work as an illustrator. In fact, my creative business, Prints and Plants, started with a few hand-printed greeting cards inspired by grapefruit that I listed on Etsy. But the funny thing is, when I first started printmaking, when I first tried it, I actually didn't like it all that much. I was really frustrated by the backwards thinking, and as a recovering perfectionist, I wasn't totally jazzed about the inherent imperfections in this art form. If you're feeling any of these things related to block printmaking, if you've tried it before and gotten frustrated and ditched it, I totally understand, and you're in the right place. Block printing is a really fun craft to develop as a personal creative process, but it's also a great tool if you want to create products to sell at any point. You could create things like greeting cards or dish towels or art prints to list in an online shop. In this class, I'll walk you through how to create your own block print from initial sketch to a final set of beautiful hand-printed greeting cards to send to friends and family or hang on your own fridge at home. To make things even more fun, you can download a set of free block printing templates on my website at This class is geared towards total beginners, so if you've dabbled in block printing before but felt too overwhelmed to really get into it or if you've never touched a carving tool in your life, then you're in the right place. Ready to dive in? Let's get started. 2. Gather Your Materials: I've included a materials list in the projects and resources section of this class with links of where you can buy all of these materials if you don't already have them on hand. Now this list might feel really overwhelming at first glance, but don't fret. You can reuse or re-purpose many of the materials for future prints and for future printing techniques. One way to minimize the overwhelm for block printing materials, is to order the Speedball water-based block printing starter kit. I've linked that in the resources document. This kit does contain everything that you'll need to get started with block printing and everything that you'll need for this class. If you do get this set, I recommend getting a five-by-seven inch acrylic sheet or a bench hook to roll out your ink. I'll go over both of these materials in more detail shortly. If you're interested in using my favorite tools for printmaking, I'm about to go over those in this lesson. I've also linked them directly in the resources document as well. Here are some of my favorite tools for block print making that I've come to love over the years. Again, don't feel overwhelmed. I'm getting into the nitty-gritty just because I get nerdy about art materials but again, just reference that resource list for direct links of where to buy everything. First, you'll need a carving block. For this class specifically, we'll be using a four-by-six inch block. I personally love the brand Eco Karve because it's made from recycled material and it comes in a pack of two, which is always really handy to have another block on hand just in case you make a mistake or if you want to make another print. It's nice to have both. Speedy Carve is another great option and that's what comes in that Speedball starter kit. That's a great option because it's super smooth to carve. It's like carving butter. It's amazing. I do love that one as well. You'll also need a linoleum cutter handle and blades for carving. I personally love this set, number 1 from Speedball because it contains five blades that are all in the handle and those five blades are each a different size. It's a nice variety. If you order the starter kit, you'll only get three blades sizes, but that is plenty especially if you're just starting out. Even if you only have one blade size, you'll be able to make a really cool print. I just really like this because I love that range and I'll talk to you about that later in this class. You'll also need some blank sheets of paper for sketching your designs and testing out your prints. I usually just use 8 and 1/2 by 11 inch printer paper for this because I have it on hand but I also like the brand Scratch Art Subi block printing paper, which I've linked in the resources document. That's really great for test prints and for sketching as well. For inking, you'll need one color of a water-soluble block printing ink. I love Speedball as a brand and today, I'm just going to be using this black color. I have it in this eight ounce jar because I used to print a whole lot of cards and so I liked having a lot of ink on hand. If you're just starting out, you don't have to get this much ink. You could get a tube of 2 and 1/2 ounces or five ounces. For example, this is the 2 and 1/2 fluid ounce size. I think that's great to get started just to try out this craft before committing to a whole jar but the jar is nice to have on hand if you're printing a large amount of something. The reason I recommend and love water-based block printing ink is that it makes cleanup a breeze and it's non-toxic. An optional material is what's called an ink retarder. This is really handy because it can help to prevent your ink from drying out, especially if you live in a dry climate like New Mexico. Since we are going to be using water-based block printing ink, it does have a tendency to dry pretty quickly, which is great once you've made your prints but when it's just on your inking plate, that can get a little tricky. The ink retarder can help to extend that drying time and make it a little more usable for a longer amount of time. If you're not using a tube of ink and you're using a jar like this, then you'll want a plastic palette knife or just a plastic knife so that you can scoop the ink out of the jar. I got this little palette knife, it's plastic at my local art store, but there had been many classes that I've taught in many times in my own studio where I have just used a classic plastic knife. That totally works too. You'll also need a tray to roll out your ink. I like to recommend a five by seven inch acrylic sheet. That looks like this. It's just this clear sheet and it's nice, especially if you're using a four by six inch block because you have a little bit more room than the size of your block so it can be nice for rolling out ink. An alternative to that would be what's called a bench hook, which sits up against the edge of your desk or your table and can be a space to roll out ink and to hold your block in place while carving. I never use a bench hook, at least not lately. I typically use the acrylic sheet for rolling out ink instead. Pro tip, another option for an inking sheet is to take glass or acrylic out of a picture frame that you already have at home and use that to roll your ink on. You'll also need a four-inch soft rubber brayer for rolling out your ink. A short note here about brayers. There are many different types, so there are three main kinds: there's the soft brayer, a hard brayer, and a foam brayer. Each of those has different uses. Foam brayers, they're really soft, they have a really squishy texture. These are used for fabric printing and that's very specific. I'm not going to dive into that in this class but if you want to learn more about fabric printing specifically, you can go take my beginner's guide to fabric printing class. Hard brayers have this black color and they're just pretty tough. They're a pretty tough roller. These are useful, I've found in my practice for harder linoleum, when it's not as soft as what we'll be using today. I personally have found that these harder brayers can sometimes respect some of the finer details and help those to stand out when I'm using harder linoleum or harder blocks. That's when I'll use a harder brayer. But for today's class, we will be using a soft brayer because it's really efficient at rolling out ink, hence the name. It's soft, you can squish it down. So it just makes rolling out your ink onto your block really smooth and really easy. We're going to be using that today. For printing your design, you're going to need what's called a baren or a wooden spoon or you can use your hands. For example, a baren, I have one that's bamboo. This is a smaller diameter. There's a few different sizes of this. It has this handle on the back so that's what I'll use to transfer a print. There are many types of barens that you can get and I've linked my recommendation in that resources document, but this is the one I'll be using. Alternatively, you could use the back of a large wooden spoon from your kitchen or the back of a large metal spoon. I have this trustee broken wooden spoon that I've used many times for my prints. I just use the back of the spoon to transfer the print. That works like a dream too. Alternatively, if you don't have either of those, it's no big deal. You can always use your hands to transfer your print as well. These will just provide a little bit more direct pressure to get a really smooth transfer. You'll also need four-by-six inch greeting cards that are white, blank, with minimal texture on the paper for printing your final design to make your beautiful set of greeting cards. I typically like to order my blank cards and envelopes from a company called LCI Paper. I recommend the four-by-six inch card size for this class, which is typically referred to as A6 size because it will match up directly with your block size. I do want to note that I'm using a slightly smaller card. My cards are going to be 4 by 5 and 1/2 inches, which is the A2 size. These are from LCI Paper. The reason for this is that these are actually made from recycled material. I try to make more eco-conscious choices when I can. I'll be using these today. It'll be just slightly smaller than my block. I'll show you some tricks for making that work if you want to follow along in that way. I've linked these recycled cards in that resources list as well. Don't forget that you're going to want some envelopes so you can send out your cards once you've completed them, so be sure to get a set of those for your cards too. Lastly, you'll need a simple number 2 pencil for sketching your designs and transferring them to your block. That's the deep dive on materials. I know it might sound like a lot, but again, don't feel overwhelmed. You can always just get the starter kit that I've linked at the top of the materials list or if you want to dig in to these favorites of mine, feel free to purchase those for yourself as well. The main thing is that once you have these materials on hand, you can reuse them over and over for your printmaking process. In the next lesson, we'll go over your class project. I'll see you there. 3. Your Class Project: For your class project, you will create a set of four hand-printed greeting cards that you can send to loved ones or hang on your refrigerator at home. Of course, you can use any subject that you're inspired by. But if that feels too broad, then I recommend creating a design inspired by flowers. If you're still feeling stuck and you're not quite sure what to create, I don't want that to stand in the way of you making a block print today. You can use the tulip template that I've provided in the resources document as inspiration, you can either use this template as a starting point to inspire your own drawing based on the template drawing, or you can just trace the template directly onto your block. I'll show you that in our demos today. Please note that this design is copyright of my business, Prints & Plants so don't use it outside of the educational purposes of this class. For example, don't go and sell it on products. Just keep it to this class as a learning material document. Thank you so much. Be sure to upload a photo of your final greeting cards to the class project section when you're finished, so I can see the beautiful work you're creating and cheer you on. To upload your class project, you'll simply go to the Projects & Resources tab of this class. Then you will click "Create Project". That will bring you to this page where you can upload a cover image, add a project title, add a project description. This is the space where you will add your photo of your class project. You can do that by clicking on "Image" and then it will bring you to your files so you can select the correct file, that is a photo of your class projects to upload to the description space. In addition, you can type some words to describe your process or anything you enjoyed about this class or this project into this description space. Then once you've uploaded everything, make sure you hit "Publish" so that we can see it in the class project section. Also, don't forget that you can ask any questions or comment on the class in the discussion section here. This is Ohn Mar Win's class as an example, but you can just pop in your discussion questions into this section so that I can make sure to answer any questions you have or cheer you on in your process. There is nothing like the feeling of pulling your first print. It's such a fun moment. I call it the big reveal. So I can't wait to see what you create today. In the next lesson, we'll talk about the benefits of block printing. I'll see you there. 4. Discover Block Printing Benefits: One of the reasons I love block printing is because of its simple graphic style. Block printing can be so visually appealing because of its chunky shapes, rich contrast, vivid colors, and just the simplicity of design. Of course there's beauty to very detailed block prints as well, I've just found that for me personally I'm really drawn to that flat, simple style of block printing that I'll be showing you today. As I mentioned, this style of block printing has significantly influenced my work as an illustrator as well. My illustration style is also full of flat, minimal, bold, and simple shapes. Even if block printing doesn't become your main creative medium or your main creative outlet, I think it still holds a lot of value to show you new ways of approaching your current creative practice. One of the great benefits of block printing is that you get to reuse your block. As opposed to illustration or painting where you create one original and that's it and then maybe you scan it and then print copies, with a block print you can reuse your carved block to print multiple greeting cards or if you're fabric printing you can print a line of tea towels. That's a huge benefit just to have that block on hand to continue to print, especially if you decide to make products at any point to really continue to use that block and create those products. Another beautiful aspect of block printing is the imperfection. As I mentioned, this imperfection was something that really challenged me at first with block printing, and let's admit it it still does. But what I've come to find over time is that it's just such an inherent part of this creative process and it adds so much beauty to the print. These imperfections they might be unexpected just from the textures of ink or the paper that you're using, but what I've learned over time is that it can be a really valuable lesson in my creative practice and in my life to embrace those mistakes and those imperfections as part of the overall beauty. But if that feels difficult to embrace, I have included a full lesson that goes over what to do if you feel like you've made a mistake while carving your block or while printing it. Another beautiful aspect of printmaking is texture. As I mentioned, sometimes that's unplanned. It's just the ink interacting with the block and the paper that can create a beautiful unintentional texture. You can see an example of this texture that arises from the combination of the paper and ink in this beautiful prints by Ed Haddaway called The Ladder. What you see here is down in this corner and in this section and a bit along the edges here, there's this speckling of the ink on the paper. What's happening there is either a lighter application of ink in this section on the block or when it was transferred, maybe there wasn't as much pressure in this section as in these other richer ink sections, so it just created a lighter transfer causing this speckled texture. That's just one inherent texture that can be really beautiful in block printmaking that just really shows the human hand behind the transferring of the inked block to the final print and paper. But textures can also be really intentional in block printmaking. Sometimes they're created from the carving marks. What we'll go over in our demos today, you'll see is when you carve your block you trim one section at a time over and over. In this process, sometimes little ridges are left in your block and those will catch ink unexpectedly. That can add a really characteristic quality of block printmaking in your final prints and a nice unexpected texture. For the carved texture that might show through, you can see an example of this here with my print pomegranate. What you see is this background, these little lines that are happening around the main pomegranate. These are just where the background caught some ink on the ridges that weren't totally carved away. I chose to leave those in this print because I thought it added a really beautiful handmade touch and really show that this was a block print and not say an illustration or a painting. It really touches on the fact that it's this specific medium. I really loved that. I kept that in this print and that's just one more way to include texture is these ridges that occur when you've carved your block that you didn't carve totally away, so that can be a really beautiful aspect as well. There is another way to plan texture for your block print in a really graphic, flat, minimal way where you can add a pattern or you can add shapes to your print to really make intentionally carved texture that's part of your overall design. I'll walk you through how to do that once we start sketching our designs together. Here you can see an example of this with these really intentional textures that are planned and carved into this block. I love this print, Forest, and the name is Diane Kappa, and it's an Etsy Shop. I got this on Pinterest. What you can see here is just all of these different sections have beautiful intentional textures happening. Right here it's these repetitive lines that have been carved in this section. Here it's these really geometric intentional sections of lines. Here it's these little arrows on lines. Then here it's the leaves that are carved out. The background it's a really nice movement with the texture of these rays. Then here it's a fun pattern that's been included. In this tree it's another type of patterns. You can see that within each section, this artist has chosen to intentionally carve different textures. That's another really beautiful way to go about block printing. This is what we'll be doing today, is planning out intentional textures, how to draw those into our sketches and then carve them into our blocks. These are just a few of the many benefits of block printmaking, so flat, fun, minimal style, texture, imperfection. Also just the process itself is so relaxing and meditative if you allow yourself to just sink into the present moment with it. That's something that used to challenge me was to just take it slow step-by-step because there are so many steps between your initial sketch and your final print. But I would recommend just really dig into that presence and just really enjoying those steps. It really adds a lot of relaxation and enjoyment to that process. I can't wait to dig in together and to start creating our prints. In the next lesson, we'll start gathering our inspiration. I'll see you there. 5. Gather Inspiration: Now that you have a basic understanding of the beauty and benefits of block printmaking, it's time to get out there and gather inspiration to create your final set of hand-printed greeting cards. Since the theme of this class project is flowers, I'm a huge advocate to go get outside, get in nature, and find inspiration directly from the source. Take your sketchbook and a camera for a walk with you and just see what you discover. Take some time, some intentional time with any flowers that you see that really inspire you, even if they're tiny little weeds. Snap a few photos with your camera, jot down any special notes about it in your sketchbook, and use that as inspiration when you come back home to create your block print. Alternatively, or in addition to getting outside for inspiration, Pinterest is a great tool to look for inspiration and ideas for your artwork. You can search for flowers all day long on Pinterest to find colors and shapes and textures that inspire you. You can also search specifically for flower block prints to get some ideas, though I do recommend not going too deep down that rabbit hole because you can trust yourself. Let your design style and your inspiration from the world shine through. I'm a huge fan of going through real tangible books for inspiration as well. Check to see if your local library has any botanical guides or coffee table books about flowers. See if you can look at those for inspiration. There are so many ideas and inspiration and beauty and books just waiting to be discovered. If you're still feeling totally stumped on what subject to draw or use, remember that you can use my tulip template that I've included in the resources document. I don't want you to feel so intimidated by finding the right subjects that you don't make anything today, so feel free to use that template if you need. In the next lesson, we'll begin the process of creating our block print by drawing our initial designs. I'll see you there. 6. Create Your Design Sketches: All right. It is time to start the process of creating our block print. For this part of the process, you will need some blank sheets of paper for drawing out your sketches. I'm just going to be using 8 1/2 by 11-inch printer paper because I have it on hand and I like that size because I can fit multiple sketches on it instead of just one. You'll also need your number 2 pencil and your four by six-inch block. I like to think about block printing like a recipe. We have our materials or you can think of that as like our ingredients, and then we have the process, that step-by-step process, and then we have the final meal, or what is our final print. I'll walk you through each of these steps. The first one is creating this sketch. Actually, rather than just one sketch, I recommend creating multiple sketches because I like to think about multiple ideas and possibilities for a block print instead of just one. Here are some tips to help you with this sketching stage. First and foremost, keep it simple. As I mentioned before, part of the beauty of block printing comes from its simplicity. When you look at your subject for inspiration, just eliminate detail. Start to keep it really simple, keep it to a line drawing, so don't do any shading or shadow just yet, just really reduce it to a simple line drawing of your subject. Also start to think in shapes. If I'm looking at this photograph of a tulip, rather than getting overwhelmed by all of the beautiful details, I'm starting to think about the main shapes of this subject. I see this shape and the stem is its own shape, and the leaf is its own shape. I'm starting to just reduce the subject to main shapes and that can really help for the future carving process and to really play on that block printing flat minimal style. I'm not getting stuck in details in the sketching stage and I recommend you don't either. We'll leave those out, for now, we can always add them in, but for now, just keep it to a simple line drawing. To start the process, you want to think about the end size of the greeting card that you're creating. For example, if you are using four by six-inch greeting cards and you have a four by six-inch block, then you're good to go because they're the same exact size so everything will line up really precisely and nicely. However, if you are using a slightly smaller card like I am with the four by 5 1/2 inch size, that's slightly smaller than my four by six-inch block, so I really want to take that into consideration. Because if I were to carve all of these elements on the four by six-inch block and then print them on the smaller card, part of that print would end up on my table instead of the card. I want to be mindful of that from the get-go. Okay. If your card that you're using is four by six inches, then your block is also four by six inches and you're good to go because those two are going to line up exactly. That's easy and great. If however, you have chosen to use the 4.25 by 5.5-inch card, then we're going to do a little trick to make sure your linoleum matches up pretty closely. Again, I'm using this smaller-sized card because it's made from recycled materials, which is something I try to source when possible. You can see here when we line this up, it doesn't match exactly, there's this overhang of block, and actually, if you put the card below the block, you can see that there's the overhang there. The card is slightly wider than the width of the block. Those are all things to take note of. To simplify the process, once we start carving, we want to be mindful of this. What I like to do is just indicate the boundary on the block. To do this, since this is slightly wider than the block, I'm just going to center it over the top of the block, and line up that top edge as closely as I can, feel about to make sure it's really straight. Then I'm just going to mark this edge with a pencil. I just have my number 2 pencil making a pretty dark line so I can see it once this card is off. Now, I have this darker line, so I know that if I just left this as is, all of my carved design would need to fit within this space because this part will print off of the card. I would need to keep that in mind. What I usually do is actually just totally cut this portion right here off completely. That really helps me once I start carving to not have to worry about alignment later or worry that I'm going to carve something in this space. To cut that off, it's really easy, it's just like cutting a vegetable. I just grab a kitchen knife and a cutting board. Here's a cutting board and then have this. This is the eco carve block, so it's a bit tougher than the Speedy Carve. It's still really simple to carve and smooth, but it is a little bit harder to cut. I like to go just to the right, so just on the outside of this line so that when I cut down, it's fairly lined up, and then I start by just aligning it as best I can, it's not going to be totally perfect, and then just putting pressure down one section at a time and slowly so I can make sure that it's lined up. I just get a bit of a line, a groove in there, and then I come here and do the same thing. Then I just continue to push down into that groove. Sometimes I'll come in with the tip here and define it a little more. But I'll keep pushing into this groove until it cuts. Then you can start to see that it's wanting to come apart, but I don't rip it off until it's pretty much all the way cut through because otherwise, you can tear the block. So there. I just set this part off to the side. What's really cool and a question that comes up a lot is how to make the best use of extra block material to really be mindful of the materials that we're using. I actually do keep scrap because I can turn them into tiny stamps or test prints later. I just have a box of scraps. I will set that aside to use later. Now, make sure to clean off that edge, sometimes there's little stray fragments, so I just like to make sure that's pretty clean. I just wipe that off, make sure the back is clean. I'll move this to the side, wipe that off my desk. Then now we can see here a lineup, so that is pretty spot on, so that's great. Now that's lined up. I just want to take note, again, that this card is slightly wider. What I could do is on my card, when I line this up, is make some really light registration marks so that's in printmaking, that just means alignment. I'm just going to lightly mark that, each edge. When it comes time to print, I can use that information to really line up my block. Also, I could just leave those marks off, I usually do when I'm printing cards because sometimes you can have a more organic feel to just line it up like so and then transfer. I'll show you that when we get to that lesson. That is how you cut down your block to size. Okay, so once you've cut down your block to size to match your greeting card or if you have the four by six-inch block and four by six-inch greeting card and you're being mighty patient, thank you. Now, we can move on to tracing the perimeter of this block size onto our paper. I recommend, and this is my personal practice to tracing the perimeter of your block multiple times. The benefit of this is that you can create multiple designs and ideas before deciding on the one you want to turn into your block print. Sometimes our first ideas rock, but other times it's the 5th, 10th, 20th idea that really jives, and that can work really well for our final print. That's why I recommend drawing out your perimeter multiple times just to get a few ideas on paper. For the purposes of this class, we'll trace the perimeter of our block three times to create three sketches and then we'll go forward from there. Now that you have your block cut down or if you're using that four by six-inch size, that's great. We're going to trace the perimeter of your block onto paper to start creating perimeters for your sketches. I'll just start this by, again number 2 pencil, blank sheet of paper. This is just 8.5 by 11 inch printer paper. I'm just going to trace the perimeter here to indicate the boundaries of my block. Then I have room on the sheet to do another one, so I'm going to do another one here. I'm going to do three total. For this class, we'll do three perimeters total. I'm going to actually do, instead of using the back of the sheet, which I would normally do, I'm going to move to a whole new sheet to do the third. Because whichever one I choose to move forward with to create my block print, I want to make sure there's nothing on the back of it. I am just going to do a third one here, tracing that perimeter. I did pretty light lines, but you can see that I have three perimeters in total on my pieces of paper. All right, now that we have those perimeters on paper, those are our frameworks to start sketching our designs into. These are like the thumbnails for your final print, but to scale. You could sketch three completely different flowers within each of these perimeters. But I actually recommend that you use the same flower in each of your sketches and depict it slightly differently each time. The reason for this is that I have found personally, and this is why I recommend it, is that this exercise of drawing the same subject in three different ways, it really helps me push past my traditional ways of seeing and thinking and leads me to new creative ideas and solutions. I think it's a really fun way to start to dig into your own creative style and find new ideas that maybe weren't present at first glance. Remember these tips as you sketch out your block design. Keep it simple. Don't dive into detail just yet. Keep it to that line drawing, that really simple line drawing. Don't add any shadow or shading just yet and start to think in shapes, main shapes of your subject. All right, grab your number two pencil and we'll dive into the demo to create our sketches together. Thinking about your source of inspiration, whatever flower you're using, use that as inspiration to start filling in these sketch areas. I'm going to use the tulip template that I've provided as a starting point. In the resources document I've provided it as a filled in drawing and as an outline. I'm going to use the outline as my inspiration for my sketches. Because again, with the sketch, I really emphasize focusing on line-drawing instead of detail or shading and shadow just yet. I'm going to use this as my inspiration. What you can see here is that this is a four by six inch rectangle. if you're using the four by six inch block, this will fit perfectly inside. Again, since I'm using a slightly smaller card and cut down my block, I'm just going to use this as a starting point. I'm going to have this to the side. If you have a photograph or an image you're working from, just have that to the side. Then I'm going to start with my first sketch. In the first sketch, I recommend that you draw pretty much exactly what you see. I'm just going to do a pretty similar drawing to what I see here in my first outline. I'm using a pretty medium pressure on my pencil. I don't want this to be light and I don't want to be sketching like this. You really want to have confidence in your lines so that it transfers really well to your block when we get to that point. I have about a medium pressure here on my pencil, but I'm not putting so much pressure that the pencil wants to break. What's happening here in the design is when I look at the filled-in version, there are textures that I added in later. We'll get to the textures in a future step. I'm not going to pay attention to those right now. I'm just going to draw the main contour of this subject. It doesn't have to be the exact same as this template. If you're using the template, don't feel pressure to make it the exact same. You can stylize it a bit and make it your own. Again, I'm starting to think in just line drawing in shape. This is a very basic drawing and we can revise this as we continue, but this is a good starting point for my first sketch. In my second rectangle and in your second rectangle using the same source of inspiration, draw it a slightly different way. For me I'm going to make a very simple line drawing kind of silhouette. Reducing this down even more and just thinking about a really simple tulip as a very minimal line drawing. Same subject of the tulip but showing it in a very different way. I might stylize these leaves just a little bit, make them a bit unrealistic. I don't know. Now I'm thinking about how cool that would have been to bring that leave really unrealistically up. I might actually just come in here and edit that sketch and see what that would look like. It's starting to look a bit like a bird. I actually don't know if I'm totally into that, but wanted to see what that would look like. That would be one other interpretation. I'll move to my third. For this one, I'm just going to focus in on one section of my inspiration. just this tulip petals here instead of this base. I am going to draw what I see there. If you're working from a photograph or the template, you can just think about what sections maybe you leave out as you progress and as you make new ideas on paper, what sections do you leave out? Which ones do you continue to include? What are you drawn to and what are you wanting to make sure is in that final sketch? I think I am going to add a bit of a stem here just to give it a bit of grounding, so it's not just totally floating. I'm actually going to connect these for now. We'll come in and erase that line. Then I'll come in and do these here. This is super simple, right? It's very flat, very minimal, very basic. We'll add to this and develop it once we get to the texture section and even once we're curving. All right, Now that we have our main sketches down on paper, we're going to talk about adding texture in the next lesson. I'll see you there. 7. Add Texture: We won't do a deep dive into all things texture in this class, but I do want to talk to you a bit about how to think about adding textures using your carving tool into your print. So brainstorming textures is the first step in the process where I even consider adding detail to my design. Before we dive into the demo and talking more about how to do this, I want to show you some examples of texture in block printing to give you ideas. So looking at some examples of texture, I want to give you a variety of ways of thinking about this so you can think about how to add it to your own sketch. This is just one example where Dorothy New Stewart, who was an incredible printmaker in New Mexico back in the day, she created this woodcut, and what I love about this is all the different textures that are happening. So here, you can see that there's a lot of intentional marks that she's made with her carving tool in this haystack, and so there's just a lot of energy and movement happening by that repetitive motion. But what's lovely is that that texture is so nicely contrasted by these solid blocks of ink in the horses where she has just done a contour line around them to really define their form, but the rest of them are just solid ink. So that can be a really nice play where you have areas of your print that are solid ink, other areas that are a lot of texture, so that's really beautiful. She's repeating this texture in the background here. This person has texture on their outfit and then also just the textures from not carving everything away entirely. So we can see that here around the fence line and here around this horse and back here. So it's just a combination of a few different texture methods that add to a really beautiful cohesive print. We looked at this example earlier to talk about the natural texture that can arise from the interaction of ink with paper with these kind of speckled areas. But I also wanted to come back to this to touch on these really intentional textures in the branch here. These carved lines that Ed has included into the branch that create a really nice balance with these really solid blocks. So for example, the solid block of the moon being white, the dog and then the ladder, they're just very crisp and clear. So this intentional texture here creates a nice contrast, again, just like Stewart's work where it's these solid blocks with more textures. That's another thing to keep in mind. This one is so beautiful. It's called Chama by Thayer Carter. Just look at all of the intentionally carved texture in this. I mean, gorgeous, right? All of these lines, these big blocks of space, but so much line work in this and so much movement. So I love how this one is carrying your eye back into the distance of this beautiful landscape. But there's so much movement with all of these repeated lines. So this is very intentional. It's not as much of what we've been looking at with these unintentional texture marks, but very intentionally planned to carve those in. Lastly, this is another example. She is Unique by Melanie Yazzie, and this is beautiful because these textures that just the movement and the repetition of all of these lines are gorgeous. I'm not certain if this artist meant for, I think there was planning because it feels so intentional with these lines, but my guess is that these lines are appearing from just those raised portions of the block, which is a woodblock that didn't get fully carved away like we looked at in my pomegranate print. So those portions that didn't get fully carved away are left and they're raised to ridges and they're getting ink and so you can see that just transferring to the paper here in this really beautiful, beautiful way that creates a lot of movement and energy. It's fun to think about, perhaps without this texture in the background, it would be really stark contrast of just white empty space, and I think these textures just add a lot of energy and interest to the piece. So that's a really beautiful example as well. Now, go ahead and look at your three sketches that you made in the last lesson and think about what fun designs or textures, intentional patterns you could include in these sketches. Don't draw them in just yet, but just start to think about what you could add. Now, I have a tip. If your texture idea is really big and bold, so something like large stripes or big triangles or really vibrant circles, then go ahead and draw that into your sketch. Actually, physically draw it on there. However, if your texture idea is something really small and minimal or really detailed, like really fine lines running through your design, then don't draw that in. I would recommend actually writing that as a note to yourself outside of your sketch perimeter, and you'll see why this is the further we progress in this process. But I do recommend this because it's something that I've learned over time that really helps and you'll see why. So I'm going to go into each of these sketches and start adding different texture ideas, and I'll show you what I mean by when you have a bigger, bolder texture, how to add that in versus when you have a smaller, maybe more delicate or detailed texture, how to add that in as notes for your sketch. So I'll start with big bold texture and I'm going to use that tulip template as inspiration for what to add in this first sketch. I'm going to set this to the side. For this part, I am going to use the filled-in version because the textures are much clearer and I can really see them in contrast and how this might look as a print. I love these stripes that are repeating. I love the big dots, I love these triangles. So I'm pretty much going to draw the textures that I just made in this template into the first sketch, and then I'll change it up as I move forward. So for this one, I'm just going to start here by drawing the lines, and these are going to be thicker lines. They're not just really thin line detail. I'm making them more of a strike. So that's why I'm drawing these end because they're going to be bigger, thicker. I'm not including all the lines that are in that template, but just using that as an inspiration starting point. This is already becoming more interesting. Those I'm going to leave, I'm actually going to draw this down a little bit. I like how this continues off into this white space. I'm going to edit that. If that's something that comes up while you're adding texture, as an edit you want to make, go ahead and make that. You can always change up your sketch the more you work with it and learn about it. So then moving into here, I like this, this definition of this leaf coming down. So I'm going to include that as a moment here. Thicker stripe to carve out. I'm just going to leave this out. I know that was another petal, but I'm going to leave that out of here. I do like these circles as large texture elements. So I'm going to add that in and then I'll add these in. Not doing as thick of a stripe, just kind of doing a simple line triangle pattern, and I like that over here too. Then I'll do these circles. That's smaller than these ones. Just like that variation in size. I'm looking at this and it could be really nice just as that solid block of color which I might do, debating that, whether I want to add texture in there too. I think I will just leave it the solid block. I think it balances out all of the textures happening and give some grounding for the eyes. So I'll leave that as is. Now, I'm moving into the second sketch to add texture. So I'm going to set this aside. For this one, because it's a more delicate line drawing and it's whimsical with these large leaves, I'm actually going to erase and just really play on that kind of like whimsical imagination of these leaves. Now, in this one, I'm thinking about more delicate textures is something that's not as bold as these circles or these larger stripes. So rather than drawing in tiny, tiny lines in here, because that's what I would want is really thin lines over and over in the petals and then probably in these leaves as well. Rather than drawing the delicate detailed texture in, I am just going to write that as a note to myself above my sketch and this will make sense as we move forward together, why we're doing it this way for more delicate textures. But if that's the case for you, if you're working with your sketch and you want something more delicate, then write it outside the bounds of your perimeter. I'm just writing add fine lines to petals and leaves. That's enough information to remind me once I get to my transfer stage and making my map, which we'll do in just a little bit. That's enough information to remind me what I want to do. So it just has to work for you. Just to note that will jog your memory to remember what you want to add. So moving to my third sketch. Because this is so big and zoomed in, I'm actually going to alter those just a little bit. I'm erasing this line. We're going to continue those a little bit deeper and then come up like that. Again, if you want to make edits to your sketch, feel free. The reason I took out that line is I'm thinking about this one continuous shape really simplifying down as opposed to this tool up where there's three kind of separate shapes in that to append. So for this one, I'm just thinking about how this could be a one shape canvas for a lot of fun, bold texture. So for this, instead of doing stripes, I am just thinking beyond even basic shape of a triangle circle. So I'm wondering, what if I came in with a carving tool and did some fun spirals? You can just experiment because we have multiple sketches. You can play with different texture ideas and notes in each. Now, since these are thinner spirals, it may have been better to actually write that as a note to myself outside, and I'll show you why in a second. But since I'm already going for this here, I'll show you what I would do for myself to help in the next few steps. So I don't know if I'm a huge fan of that texture, but it's just one more option that I could play with. I don't know that I would go forward with that, but it's one idea. Then in here, I might come across with some stripes in this stem. The background, rather than it just being a solid color like I left in these other two, maybe I want to come in and do something back there. I could do some bolder triangles. So then this one is getting to be a lot of texture, and sometimes, playing to the extreme on texture in block printing is actually really conducive to this art form in this craft because I can just really hold that busyness quite well and that handmade whimsical quality. So that's something to play around with. This a bit busy for my taste though. So I don't know that I'll move forward here. But what I was mentioning about maybe not drawing these ends and thinner, what I might do instead if I were to do this again, would be to draw these bolder textures, so these triangles and these thicker lines, and then add this as a note above my sketch, thin spirals within the flower head. Since I've already done all of this, what I would do instead is mention to myself that I want these spirals to be white inside of the inked flower head. So for me, I'm going to be using black ink. I want the flower head to be black and the needs to be white. So I would just write that to myself as a note above. So spirals, white; flower, black. Then that way, once we get to the transfer step and making our map, I have that as a reference so I remember. So that is one way that you could add textures to your block intentionally so that we're going to be carving these as patterns and as really graphic qualities into our print. Again, just a reminder, if it's bigger, bolder texture, I do recommend drawing not in like we've done here. If it's smaller, finer texture, I recommend just a note to yourself above your perimeter, and you'll see why that is when we get to the lesson where we're making our map before we start carving. So go ahead and think about which intentional carved textures you want to include in your sketches for your final prints, if any. You don't have to include texture, but if you do want to, start to think about what you want to add. I would actually recommend, why not play with all three of your sketches? Maybe in one of them, you add a texture drawing of large triangles, and then in another, you add the note of really fine detailed line, and in the third sketch, maybe you want to create large vibrant circles. So go ahead and add your texture drawings or notes to your sketches, and we'll use those in our next lesson. In the next lesson, we are going to turn our sketch into a map that will help us when we start carving our blocks. I'll see you there. 8. Make Your Map: The next step is to pick just one of your designs to continue forward. Yes, just one for now. You can always turn the other two into block print at some point as well. But for this lesson, just pick one design that you want to move forward with. We're going to turn that design into a map that will help you as you begin to carve your block. Right now you just need your sketches and your number 2 pencil. Once you've selected your design that you want to move forward with, let's move into creating our map. This map step has been so helpful in my printmaking process because it immensely reduces confusion down the road. This map is helping your future creative self. What I mean by this is that printmaking requires some reverse thinking. For example, when we start to think ahead a bit to our block, whatever we carve away or out of our block will not receive ink. If you're printing on white paper, whatever you carved out of your design, that will be white. That will be the paper showing through. Whatever you leave on your block, whatever you don't carve away is going to receive ink. Whatever color you're using, today I'm using black, my block where I don't carve away parts of it, that is what's going to receive the black ink. Give you an example. This is on the Metropolitan Museum of Art website explaining how a woodcut is created. I just wanted to walk you through this to give you a good visual before we create our maps on our sketches. What's happening here is the artist is transferring the initial design to a block. We will be doing that together. Then they're carving out around that design, around their notes, we'll be doing that too. But what I mostly want to show you from this is how the block looks once it's fully curved. You can see here that these shapes are raised. All of these stones are pebble shapes and then in the background here everything around all of these repetitive lines are raised. This area is really carved out. You can see everything else is recessed down, a bit of depth below that surface level. What you can see is once it's inked, everything that was carved away does not get the ink and everything that wasn't touched, that wasn't carved away gets ink because it's raised, it's on the surface of the block. This is just a helpful visual to keep in mind for when you're creating your map on your sketch and thinking ahead to what you want to be inked and what you want to be white. Then you can just see down here how it looks with the prints against the block and just again, those raised spaces are what get ink and so you can see that that's what's transferred to the paper. That's just something to keep in mind, a good visual to have on hand so that you can really plan accordingly in your map. If this feels really confusing, it is. That was one of the reasons I didn't like printmaking at first, like I mentioned in the intro. But don't worry, this starts to make way more sense once you see it in demo, once you practice it and once you see prints, it just starts to all come together. So just trust that. Just start by taking a look at your sketch and thinking about the areas that you really want to stand out and pop in your design. This will start to inform which areas of your block you will eventually carve away and which you will leave on the block to be inked. That's where the amazing, beautiful contrast of printmaking really starts to shine. Now it's time to pick one of your sketches to move forward with to create your final block print. This is totally a personal choice about what appeals most to you visually and what you want to experiment with as we begin carving and then inking and printing our blocks. For me, I'm going to move forward with this one that is pretty directly based on the template that's provided. I'm going to choose this sketch. I'll move this paper off to the side. I'll bring this into view here. I'm just ignoring this one for now. That might become a block in the future, I might add to that and detail that out, but for now I'm just sticking here. Once you've chosen your main sketch, it's time to make a map. This step is really, really helpful for your future creative self, as I mentioned, because this is where you're going to get a lot of your information down for once we start carving. The more information we can get down on paper in this step, the better off you'll be in that future lesson and in that future step of the process. I have this template print out as a reference point for my map making. You can do that too if you're using the template for your own sketch. I'm just looking at what I initially thought about for my future prints, what I wanted inked and what I didn't want inked. Again, remember whatever we carve away, that is going to be left white if our paper or our cards are white, those are the areas that won't receive any ink. Now, the areas we don't carve, the areas we don't touch on our block, those will receive ink. I'm just starting to think ahead to that process. I'm thinking as I look at my chosen design, what areas I want to really stand out and receive ink and what areas I want to be carved away, negative space, no ink. I do still feel that I want this background to be white, which will mean that I'm carving it away. What I love to do in this map is actually write the word carve or a C in the areas that I want to be white so that I remember that once it comes time to carve. I'm going to start doing that here. Even though this is all the background, there are all these little tiny areas happening. I just really want to be overboard on the notes because that will help me even more in the future. I'm writing C, carve, carve, carve, C, C, just to really give my future self a lot of help. Now, I'm looking at this and thinking, where do I want to fill in space, where do I want it to receive ink? For those areas, I'm actually going to do a scribble line with my pencil so I really see it visually. I don't have to fill in every square inch, of course, I'm just giving it enough of a reference point. Again, I'm doing medium pressure here because I want that to transfer nice and smoothly. But you can see that I'm not filling in every square inch just enough to see it and to remember that that's an area I want inked. I'm going to continue to do this throughout the rest of my sketch and you can do the same, just filling in that information for yourself. What I'm noticing here, remember when I drew these in and it was a thin line, this is a great example of why usually with these thinner lines or fine detail lines like I was mentioning in this sketch, that's usually why I advise to just write those as a note above. Because if I were to come in here and fill in the black for these carved or these triangles that are going to keep ink on them because I want these lines to be white, then it would totally lose that. For example, if I were to come in and color that in, I'm starting to lose that I want those triangle lines white. Instead of that, since I already drew them in, what I'll do is just do a little bit of an internal line so I can remember that I want those white. This is why I usually recommend for finer lines like this to just note that above, but you can also do it this way. Now when I come in here and fill those in, I can more clearly see that those are going to be white lines. This is just a trial and error. Sometimes you don't get every detail right in that initial line sketch because now I'm noticing that this line here, which I want to be white is lost. I'm actually going to take my eraser and just make a light line through that. This is what I mean, you're editing as you go as well. Now I can see that more clearly too. Then I'll just come in here and make a more defined edge line. That went over too far, around that. Then I'll do an edge line around this as well to really see that more clearly. Now that is carved out, in my mind that is white and that's what I want. Now I know that the same situation is going to happen here because I have those thin lines. So instead of doing it in that method, what I'm going to do here is actually come in and do an additional line instead of erasing it, which means I need to move these circles just a little bit. Again, this process, it's not always perfect but it's just getting going, that can always inform the next step and how you want to adjust things as you go. This is all part of visualizing more and more your final print. This is really helpful and helping your mind to start thinking ahead to that print and how that's going to look. Now I've added that extra line so I don't have to come in and erase. I'm going to do the same on these triangles. These triangles are pretty fine, so instead of coming in with that additional line, I'm just going to do a side note here. Sketches are not always pretty, just information for us. I'm going to do a side note here that I want thin lines for triangles and I have this as a reference too if I'm using the template. Instead of doing a really thick layer of graphite, I'm just going to come in lightly. I know I want the majority of this leaf filled and I want those triangles to be white and I have that as a note here. I've just written thin lines, which in my head means I'm going to carve thin lines, so I know that means they're going to be white. But I just went ahead and added white just as an extra layer of just really thinking ahead to that step. Now I'm going to come in here and fill in around these circles. Now I'm going to move up into the tulip petals, start filling in around these stripes. Then I want these to be white, so I'm going to fill in around those. Now for all these areas, I've left white, I could just leave them white, but sometimes again, I add just a C to really remind myself to carve that out. These are too small for that, so I'll just remember. But in these stripes, I'll write small cs, in here I'll do a c and a c. Just take the level of info that you need for this map making sketch and then that will help you personally in your creative process when you move to transferring and then carving your design. Now take the time to fill in your sketch to make it a map to help you in the next step. In the next lesson, we'll transfer our map design to our block. I will see you there. 9. Transfer Your Design: Now it's time to transfer our design to our block, and this is where it starts to get really fun. For this portion of the process, you'll need your chosen sketch, your four by six inch block, and you're number two pencil. There are multiple ways to transfer your design to your block, but I'm only showing you one in this class because it's the only one I use. Because over time and through many different methods, I found this to be my personal favorite because I think it's the simplest and least complicated, and removes some of the headache of backwards thinking with printmaking. This is a method I like to call the pancake method and I'm going to demo it for you to show you why I love it so much. Now we have our chosen image with the map information included, it's time to transfer this to our block directly. If you're using the template directly and not as a reference for a sketch but you just want to use it as is, then I recommend that you draw back over this outline version with your pencil in that medium pressure, and then fill in your info with your map. For example, I would trace over all these lines with my pencil, and then I would use the filled in version that's included in the resources document and just start to mark in those areas. I would just imagine that these lines are all traced over in my pencil, and then I would start filling these in with that info to make my map on this outline version. Then that way you can transfer exactly what the template is rather than making your own sketch if you choose to go that route. You just really want to make sure that these lines are outlined in your pencil so all of that information will transfer. If you are using the sketch that you've created within your own perimeter, then you'll just use the map we made in the last lesson to transfer it to your block. Go ahead and grab your block. Again, I cut mine down to size of my card, and that's what this perimeter is based off of. You made your perimeter based off of your block, so you just line up your block exactly within the perimeter. I like to start with the corner, so these two corners are aligned, and then I drop the block down and make sure it's aligned at the top, edges. Once it's aligned within the perimeter, you place one hand. I'm using my left hand, non-dominant hand, and putting pressure down on the block, sliding my other hand underneath the paper, underneath the block, pushing together like a sandwich to make sure that they're held together and tight, and then flipping like so, holding this down. You can check alignment here to make sure it's pretty close, pretty spot on. It's looking pretty good. I hold it with my hands, since there's nothing holding it down, and then you take your pencil, same number two pencil, and I hold it in one area and then you just start. I like to hold it like this. Instead of writing like this. Apply a pretty tough, hard pressure of your pencil to the back of your paper that's sitting on your block, so you're coloring basically on the back of your block, and this will start to transfer your design to your block. You can start to see that it's coming through, which is great. If you're using the speedy carve, the transfer is so nice on the speedy carve. It's really smooth and easy. This eco carve depending on the block that you get, sometimes they can be a little tougher or if you're using an older block especially, it can be harder to sometimes get these transfers to work really crisply, but for newer blocks or that speedy carve, works great. Then I just move my hand around a bit, you will get graphite everywhere. I usually just look for enough information, sometimes a few details get lost but as long as I have the main map and outline info then I'm good. Before I commit to pealing the whole thing up, I just check from all angles to make sure I can see most of the detail, and this is looking pretty darn good. I'm going to say that's good, and I'm going to flip this off. What I like to do is if there's areas that are light or transferred lightly, then I like to come back over those with pencil just to darken them up so I can really see it while I carve. If you're using the template, what's great about that, is you can have it as reference right here, to really get that endpoint visual, but you can also just have your sketched map here to really reference back to as you carve to double-check everything. I will have that by me while I carve. But for right now, I'm just looking for any areas I want to fill in with pencil. Overall, it looks pretty good, it's pretty clear, crisp and clear. Another great option if you really want that visual to pop, especially once you start carving, is to go back over everything that you've drawn in pencil was sharpie. You could just come over everything in sharpie. That can help you to really start to visualize what things will look like once you carve. You could do that if you want even more contrast and visibility. Typically for me, for single color block prints, I don't usually go back over in sharpie, I usually find that the pencil information is enough for me, but it's really your preference on what you feel like will work best so, that is an option. But for me I'm just going to keep it as pencil for this because I feel like I got to good enough transfer to know where to carve. You'll notice after you transfer your design, that it's backwards on your block. Backwards from the way you drew it in the way you intended it. This is the beauty of this transfer method. This is the reason I love the pancake method, is that once you carve your backwards design on your block and print it, it will print correctly, it will print the exact way that you drew your sketch. This has helped me a lot in printmaking because with some other transfer methods, I'll draw the design and then I transfer it to the block and then when I print it, it's backward. This is especially tricky with designs that have words in them. With the pancake method, with what you've just practice, that eliminates that confusion because what you're going to print from your block will be the correct orientation based on your sketch information. Alright, now that we have our designs transferred to our block, it's time to start carving in the next lesson. I can't wait. This is the best step. I'll see you there. 10. Carve Your Block: For carving, you're going to need your linoleum cutter handle. The blades which are typically stored in the handle of the cutter. Then you'll also need the block that you have with your transferred design. If you'd like, you can also use a rubber mat or a bench hook to carve on top of so that you keep your block from slipping. I typically don't find either of these necessary with this soft type of block that we're using. I'll only use a rubber mat or bench hook if I'm carving a tough linoleum or a wooden block, because I've found that's way more likely to slip or catch my blade, but with the softer blocks, I don't find it as necessary, so don't feel like you have to have that. Now that you have your map totally transferred to your block, it's time to start carving. Your carving tool is this little guy. This is likely the one you're using, the speedball handle, wonderful. The blades are usually stored inside the handle. You can just access those by unscrewing the top, pouring them out. I have the lino no set number 1, so I have five different blades. Let me walk you through how to use this tool and what these blades do. I always like to just pop this guy back on the top. First, let's chat about these different blades and you can look at your blades and see which one do you have. You can tell what you're working with because there's a number on the neck right here. What I see here is the number 5, I can see in the light there, number 5 and then there's some writing here. This neck with the writing, I'll show you this in a minute, but that is what's going to actually go into your tool, this other end without any writing, that's the blade. Just be mindful that that is the sharp end, the one without the writing. But you can designate or you can find out which blade you're using by looking for the number. Again, that's always going to be found on the back of the neck there. That's a five. Well, that looks like is this wider U-blade. That's really good for carving away large portions of a block. When I'm looking at this, that would be a lot of my background. Maybe some of these wider lines but probably a smaller tool for that, but these larger background areas, I would probably use this wider U-tool. That's the five. Let me secure. Then there's this three. Again, you can find that number on the back of the neck. That is this V-shape. It's a bit more of a U, it's not totally pointed, but it's a narrower U than this five blade. It's a bit narrower. That can be really nice for some of these wider lines when I come in there because it'll really take out some of that bigger space, but it's a narrower blade, so it just helps with those narrower lines, and then you have the two. This is actually a point here V-blade. That can also be good for narrow spaces or if you're really getting a refined edge around something, that can be helpful too. This is one of my favorites for detail. This is the one, it's just a very small blade. That's really nice if you're doing finer detail work. When we talked about texture, if you wrote in notes for yourself, fine detailed, minimal line. This is a great blade to use for just those repetitive, really thin lines. Or for example, if I'm going to do thin lines for these triangles in the leaf here, this would be a great blade for that. Then I also have this sixth blade which came in the set. Honestly, I rarely use this blade on softer linoleum. I have used it on harder linoleum to really carve outlines in my design because it gives it a bit of a groove and a bit of definition so that when I come back to carve around that line with a bigger blade, it has a bit of a guiding groove to go around. I've used it for that but for this softer linoleum, I rarely use this blade. I'm going to actually set this one off to the side. Then as far as the handle itself and putting these blades into it, what you can see here is that there's this ball that rests in the neck of this handle. If you're getting this brand new, that ball might be totally out. I want to show you what happens if that's the case, or if you unscrew this too much, if you unscrew this neck much, then it's going to fall apart. I would advise to not unscrew this all the way because it's really easy for it to fall apart and to lose one of these inside pieces. But let me show you what to do if that happens or if you're starting from scratch. If I did unscrew this all the way, what would happen is it would come apart into these two pieces. There's this thicker piece with a ball, and then there's this really thin half-moon shape. I'm going to set the neck down for a minute. To put this back together, what you would do is make sure everything was lined up. The thin half-moon really nicely curves around, it's like hugging this bigger ball piece. But you want to make sure that there's this little divot, this little neck and you want to make sure that's aligned. I'm just going to curve this around. It fits naturally, so it should feel like an easy fit, and then what you'll see, I'm holding it together with my fingers but that this bottom neck part lines up. You want to make sure that lines up together and it's not like this because that's a recipe for getting stuck and not working in your carving tool. Make sure they're aligned together. Once they're like that, I grab the neck and this part that has texture on it, that is the part that's going to sit on the top of your handle. You want that part down and this smooth part facing up. What I want to do with these together, is insert them into the bottom part where the texture is with the ball facing up once it's in here. What that looks like, so I slide it in and then you can see in there that the ball is facing out. It's not putting in this way where when you look at it, it's flat. You don't want it to be flat when you look at it, you want to see that ball when you look down through the top. You put those two pieces in. The ball is sticking out the top. Then I like to just, once you do that, you can flip it over so that this smooth part is facing down and it holds those components in there. I hold it like that so I don't lose them, and then I take the handle and I screw it in. If you screw it totally tight, then you are certain that they won't fall apart but you have to loosen it a little bit to insert a blade. As I mentioned, you want to insert the portion of the blade that has the writing on the neck, and where you're going to put it in. What I like to do is just loosen a little bit, again, not fully because it'll fall apart. Loosen a little bit and then where you'll put it in like when you loosen it, if you look down in there at the ball, you'll see that they separate a little bit. That half-moon starts to separate from the ball piece. What you want to do is put the neck with the writing in between the half-moon and the ball. It's sandwiched between those two pieces. You don't want to put it on the outside of the half-moon or the outside of the ball. You want to put it between those two. If it's not fitting, just loosen it a little bit more to give more wiggle room, and then now it slides right in there between the half-moon and the ball. Then once it's slid in, you want to make sure that you can't see any writing anymore that the neck is fully in their. If this is too tight when you insert it, sometimes you can still see writing and this means that this is not secure. You want to make sure that that's totally secure so your blade doesn't freak out on you once you're carving. Make sure there's no writing that you can see, you can still see the number of the size of the blade, and you just make that secure and then tighten it up. I always do a little wiggle test, make sure it's secure and it feels good, and then I am ready to start carving. Since we are working with sharp blades, there are some safety things to keep in mind. I got ahead of myself, I started carving, but these are the safety rules. When you're carving, you want it to feel like butter, you want it to feel super smooth. This does not have to be an excavation, you do not have to go super deep. Sometimes there's a temptation to go really deep because you think you need to so that it doesn't pick up ink, but even like a surface curve will be enough. You don't have to go super deep and it shouldn't feel like you're digging. It should feel like butter. One way to get that is to carve at a 45-degree angle. Rather than coming straight up like this or too low, you want to come in at a 45-degree angle. Another thing is to hold it with this part, this ball in the center of your palm, and then just loosely wrap your fingers around. I like this finger on this textured part of the handle. I like my thumb on the side and then these just wrap around like that. You're not holding it like a pencil, holding it like this, and then like that. Another major rule is to always carve away from yourself. Never carve towards you. For this, I always like to hold one end of the block with my non-dominant hand, so my left hand, hold that back here, and then whatever I'm carving, I carve away from my hand. What that means is that throughout your process, you're turning your block. You're not turning your blade towards you. You turn your block and then hold on that opposite end and carve away. Turn and carve away. That is the main rule of thumb, never carve towards you, always carve away. Now another thing that you could use, I mentioned that bench hook in the beginning that can help to prevent this from sliding. I find that these are usually pretty stable, these softer linoleums, they don't like to slide all that much. Another option is just this rubber sticky sheet. I have one of these on hand. I don't usually use it for carving, but one reason it is helpful is, I'll just lay it out and show you here. Is one, it can help prevent your block from slipping. It can also help prevent any gouges in your table and once you start carving, you'll get these little pieces. Once you get a pile of those, having a sheet like this or even a large sheet of paper can be really useful because you can just scoop it all up and then pour it into the trash can. That can be a good way to collect the pieces that come off. I will be using this today just to collect those pieces and make sure they're all contained, but it's totally not necessary, just an option. Again, to recap, safety rules, always carve away from yourself, turn your block instead of turning your blade. Carve at that 45-degree angle to get that really smooth as butter feeling, and you'll know when you hit it because it feels like you've hit a groove. Like you found a good flow and you can just like carve that line forever. Just experiment with some different angles, do you feel that, and then roll with that. Let's start carving our designs. Now that I'm not ahead of myself, now I'm going to start carving. I'll start with the one blade. The number 1 blade, that really thin one. Sometimes I'll start a design by coming in with that one blade and just carving around the outline of my design. That can help to be a guide when I come back in with the larger blade because, let me show you that. Depending on your design, that can be helpful. I'm just popping the one blade in here, and then I come around here. For example, I would come around the edges of my whole design, so basically the contour lines of my design. What's helpful about doing this first is that it can be a really good guiding point for the other blades that you use. Let me show you what I mean just in that section. Let's pretend that I carved out all of the lines with that number one blade. Now, I'm ready to come back in and carve away the larger areas. I would pop in my five blade, that really wide U. What happens there is it can create a really nice edge for your bigger blade to follow, and that can create a really smooth contour as opposed to just coming in here, and trying to define that just with my five, which can happen. That can work, but sometimes it's helpful to have that smaller groove ready to go to help guide your larger blade. I am going to do that, in case you want to follow along. So I'll just start by carving the thin lines all around the main contour, and then I'll come back in with my five-blade. You can tell if you go too deep because there's a lot of resistance to this blade moving. If that happens, just remove your blade, and then go back to that 45-degree angle. I have the main contour carved with my number one, just that main outline as a guiding line for my bigger carving blade. I'm going to pop in the five, which is that wide U, and start to carve away these bigger sections that say carve. You can see how that just fits right in that groove so nicely, and can just be a really nice guiding line. Sometimes, you might find that when you're carving and you come up on the edge of your block, it stops. You could leave a border around to the very edge or if you want that gone, I like to come in straight on, parallel to the edge to carve that away. Then that way, you don't have that edge line. That naturally happens when you're trying to carve towards it perpendicularly. When you come out at parallel, you can get rid of that. All right, first mistake. This happen. I just accidentally carved into the leaf. Sometimes that happens, you might encounter that yourself. This, I actually am just going to carve this into a thinner leaf since it's just the edge. I'll just come in slowly, and start to take that away, and then turn it back into the initial carved contour, and smooth that out. You can fix mistakes sometimes. Again, if not, you just incorporate them into your design, but it's part of the process. So you'll probably start to notice that as you carve, you have all these lines. Some of those might pick up when we ink, and we'll just see once we start inking what picks up and what doesn't. But again, that can add a really beautiful texture to the final print. You can always come back over those later, and carve more away if you want. You can't as easily, add back in what you've already carved. I like to recommend, if you're curious about that, just let it be, and you can always come back in and carve more away later if you want. These are some thinner spaces. I'm not using the larger blade there. Right now, I'll switch my blade for that, but for this section, I can carve this out. I've done the bigger sections with my bigger blade, so I'm going to switch to a smaller blade. Rather than the five, which I'll set to the side, the one is too small for right now. So I will come in with, let me use the two rather than the three. I'm going to use the two, pop that in, make sure it's nice and secure. Whenever I'm making sure it's secure, I'm not touching the blade itself, just the wider part here. That's another tip to keep in mind. This is where the V is really nice on the two because this is pointed into a V, this section, which you can see right in there. That's nice rather than the U because I can get into that point. Rather than carving straight into that V, I want that to be a V-shape, so I'm going to actually just tear that off right there. I'll turn my block to put my V-blade in there to get that shape. I'm referencing back here. This is where it's handy to have a sketch, just in case, or the map you made on hand on your desk, just to reference back to. Because now I'm looking and deciding, do I want these stripes to run off or to be contained by a really thin line around the edge here? I do want them to run off into the background like it is in this template. I am just going to come from the background here, carve straight into this line where I wrote C, for carve. Now I'm going to come in with a smaller blade to get some of these finer details. I'm actually going to put in the one, and then I can always come back over that the lines I make with the one and can come back over with a larger blade if I need to or want to. This is a perfect example, sometimes your blade gets stuck. When that happens, you can wiggle it out. But if you feel like you're forcing it, sometimes you just have to like unscrew this a whole lot to really loosen it up, and sometimes you have to actually take the neck off completely because sometimes it just gets a little jammed, and then you just push it in and out until it loosens enough to take it out, and then I just keep my finger under there to avoid losing the internal pieces, and then twist it back on. Now it's loose enough to put this blade in, so I'm putting the one in. Now I'm going to come in here onto these triangles shapes first, since those are pretty fine, and carve those out to begin. Another mistake just happened. My one slipped off, and brand over into this leaf. I'm just going to leave it. That's just going to be an imperfection in my print. No big deal. But if you wanted to incorporate it, then you could just make some of those texture marks all along here to make it look intentional. I'm just going to leave it, and let it be one of the imperfections. Another way to avoid that is instead of carving towards this other shape like I was, I could just carve these triangles away to this empty space, and then there's less chance that it's going to slip and hit another shape that I want to be inked. I'm not following exactly what was drawn on here, but the idea is just these repeating triangles. You can do that too. You can take your map as a starting point, and then just use that to work fluidly once you're in there. Now I might want a thicker blade, so I'll probably come back over that line to make it a bit more graphic and pop a little bit more. Just noting that to myself, but while I have the one blade in here, I'm going to carve these circle outlines, and then these smaller circles, and then these two pieces of the flower here. So I'm going to come in because I think I want those to be pretty thin, and those are some small circles. For circles, I like to turn my block. I'm actually because this is so sticky, I'm going to move this so I have a little bit more smoothness on the table to turn. I like to hook my blade in there, and then just turn the block in a circle. I'm not moving my blade, I'm just moving my block, and that can help to create a really smooth circle as opposed to trying to carve around towards yourself. With these circles, I just redid that line, but I'm going to come in with a bigger blade to just scoop that out. So right now I'm just doing that outline. Make me good to go slow on these, to really follow that. I went a little fast on the last one, so follow that contour of the circle. For really small circles, I have also seen print makers who use a little like a little tool that they can just punch in to remove it. I don't use one of those. I don't have it, but that would be a handy tool to have on hand for these smaller circles because right now it's tricky to get them that small. This is really where you want to be at that correct angle with your blade because if it's too deep, it makes it really tough to get that circle movement which happened in that one. Now I'm going to come back in with a bigger blade to carve out the inside of those circles. I'm going to put the two back in, tighten that up, and start to carve out the inside of these circles. What's nice here is that you have, I'm going to move this aside again because I want to turn my block. But what's nice here is that you have the contour from your initial one blade, if that was what you were using for a circle. So it helps to guide the bigger blade, clean that up, and what I just did there was I was lifting not inside out. So I put my finger as I lifted, not into the end of the blade but just on top, it's going to pop the inside of that circle out. These are so small, I'm just coming in at the edge where I made the contour and then popping out that whole inside shape at once. Then remember that with these lines, I wanted to make those thicker so I'm just going to come back over those initial lines with this bigger two-blade. I always like when I look at it to make sure everything looks good, and I'm ready to do a test print to see how it looks when it's printed. I always like to wipe it off because if there's any stray linoleum that can really interfere with inking. So just make sure it's totally clean. Any stragglers are cleaned off. Sometimes I like to pat it to really knock anything out of there. Set this to the side. If you've just been carving on your table, just scoop all of these pieces together and throw them away. Really making sure that there are no stray pieces. Because again, even like a razor shavings can really interact with your ink and you don't even know till you've printed. So it can make some spots that you might not want. That's a benefit of either a large piece of paper or a mat like this as you can just roll it up, and then you can see I have these smaller bits. I'm just going to collect those and I'll throw everything away, and then after that, we will start inking and printing. Now that we've carved our designs, we're going to move into inking and printing shortly. But before we do that, I am going to talk about what to do about those pesky mistakes in the next lesson. I'll see you there. 11. What to Do About Mistakes: Before we dive into inking and printing in the next lesson, I want to go over some solutions for any "mistakes" you feel you may have made. Whether while carving or in the future while we print. I don't mean to diminish your mistakes by putting air quotes around it, one main solution I want to address is to re-frame mistakes especially when it comes to block printing. One of the beauties of block printing is that it's pretty forgiving because these imperfections or what we feel like our mistakes, can really become part of the beauty and that handmade quality of a print. It's a bit on your side when it comes to mistakes as opposed to maybe some other art forms that aren't as forgiving. That said, in addition to that with mistakes, think about them as learning opportunities. This is a whole new art form that you're taking on, so just keep that in mind that you're going to mess up. I mess up still and I've been doing this for years. Just don't be too hard on yourself, and just let yourself learn from the mistakes and incorporate that into your next step or your next print. Also on that note, I think, as hard as it is, sometimes making mistakes is the best way to learn and the most efficient way to learn. For example, there have been many times, not just one, but multiple times, and I've learned more and more each time, but multiple times where I have carved a design with words in it, and I finished the block and I'm so ready to print, and I'm so excited and I print it and all of the words and letters are backwards. In that case, that was a hard lesson to learn, but I learned it. Now, I always double triple check to make sure everything's correct in my sketch and transfer before I start carving. When you feel like you've made a mistake, one of the best questions to ask yourself right off the bat is, is this a mistake that is actually not going to work, it's going to really affect my end print? Or is there a possibility that it could be an unexpected, beautiful surprise? If there's even an inkling that it might be a beautiful surprise, then move forward and print it and just see how it looks. Because you might be surprised, and you might really enjoy it and think it's a really nice addition that you weren't expecting that's now in your artwork. Also on that note, if you print it and it is working but not totally, one way to go about that is to think about if there's a way to incorporate it more seamlessly into your print. For example, maybe you're carving and your blade slips just a little bit and nicks a part of your block that you didn't mean to carve, that you wanted to be fully inked. That's a bummer when that happens. But once you print it, maybe you think, "Oh, this could become a really cool texture in the background, instead of just that solid block of ink." Maybe you return to your block and you intentionally carve similar lines all around that line and start to make it feel like it was intentional. That's another way to deal with a mistake. If you make a mistake, not while carving, but while you're inking and printing, no big deal. Just chalk it up to experience and ink up again and pull another print. For example, maybe in one instance you put too much ink on your brayer, and on your block, and it just got gummy and gunky in your print, that happens. There's a whole trial and error process to get the feel of ink and an understanding of what a good amount is. Just understand that, that's going to happen. If you get too much ink, just rinse everything off and start again with a little bit less ink and try that. On the other hand, if you ink to lightly and it doesn't have enough, no biggie. You just add a little bit more ink and try it again. Inking and printing, when you have mistakes in that realm, you can really troubleshoot by adding or subtracting the amount of ink or by maybe using that ink retarder I mentioned as an optional material to extend the drying time of the ink. But also just remember that if there are textures that you don't expect from the ink interacting with the paper, that's a beautiful part of block printing, and sometimes just embracing them can really add to that beauty. Now, if you make a mistake, that is truly a whoops, moments like I mentioned, that I've done with lettering in the past. Then, yeah, sometimes you just have to start over and it hurts to have to re-carve a whole block. But again, in those moments, just remember that you're learning quickly and that you know what steps to take next time and what to not do next time as well. Also, sometimes I've found that when I do have to start completely over, it's a blessing in disguise, because when I start over, I can see my design in a new way. Maybe I want to actually add something or subtract something and in the end, I'm actually happier with that newer design, than I was with the previous. Allow yourself to be open to that too. But I do recommend if you're in the true, whoops moment, take a break from your studio, from your kitchen table, walk away, go for a walk, come back later, and then approach restarting. From experience; speaking from experience. Lastly, sometimes you can super glue pieces that you've carved out back into your block, but I rarely do this because sometimes at that point I just start over, because I'm trying so hard to hold onto something that's just maybe not going to work. Just keep that in mind too. You could try that, but it's not an approach of a solution that I usually take. No matter the mistake, no matter which solution you're trying out, just remember that the main thing is to not get discouraged. Again, you're learning a totally new creative medium. I mean kudos on that, but also just remember that mistakes are going to happen and that's part of the learning process. It's something I remind myself of too, I'm not perfect by any means and thus I still get frustrated with mistakes. But I do try to remind myself that I get better with each one. Just remember to keep going over time with practice and mistakes and those solutions, you will get better. In the next lesson, we're going to dive into inking and printing our blocks. This is such a fun part of this process. I call it the big reveal where you finally get to see what your design looks like as a print. I'll see you there. 12. Ink & Print Your Block: Now it's time to ink up and print your design to see the final results of this beautiful process. For this portion, you're going to need your ink, so your water-soluble block printing ink. If you're using it from an eight container, you'll also need a palette knife or a plastic knife. You'll also need your inking tray or plate. Whether you're using the acrylic sheets that I recommended or a bench hook, that's great. Either of those. You'll also need your brayer for rolling out your ink. You'll need a baren or a wooden spoon or your own hands to transfer and print your design. You'll also need your greeting cards that you are printing onto. Once you've gathered those materials, let's get printing. Now that you have your carved block all ready to go, it's time to make a test print by inking and printing. I like to recommend that you use paper. You don't really care about nothing fancy. I'm just using plain old printer paper here for a test print. The purpose of this is just to see if you like what you've carved and if you want to change anything, or if you're good to go and you want to print your set of greeting cards. I'll walk you through how to do all that. My setup, what I like to do, I'm going to set this to the side for now. Just a note. Make sure your brayer is totally clean, that there's no debris or random pieces of linoleum on here of your block because that can interact with the ink. Just roll it, make sure it's good to go. Setting that off to the side for now. I like to set this up where I have my acrylic sheet to the left, my block in the middle, and then whatever I'm printing on whether it's the card or paper to the right. For starters, we have to get some ink onto our sheets or inking tray. I do have the ink retarder to extend the drying time just a bit. I'm going to move this over here actually. I have my eight-ounce jar of ink. I'm just going to open this up and then I have my palette knife, so I am just going to stir it around a bit. Sometimes it's a little bit separated. I'm just going to stir it around and then I'm going to get a healthy amount, not too much, but just a healthy amount of ink to start. You can always add more. I'm going to just put it in a little pile on the left-hand corner of my sheet. Also, I'm using this mat just to protect my table from ink. You could also use a large piece of newsprint if you want or paper. I have this little pile of ink here and I'm going to mix in just a little bit of this ink retarder. Just like a little tiny pea size. I'm just going to mix that in there. That may have been too much. We'll see. I'm actually going to clean a little bit of that off and get more ink just because I can tell it's a little too thin with adding that much. Sometimes it's just a bit of a give and take. Just mixing that around. Then I'm going to pull this across into an even ribbon of ink. I'll just set this here. Now it's time to take your brayer and pull this ink down. This is what's called charging your brayer, so it's inking it up. I just put this in here and start to pull it down across the acrylic sheet. You can see that it's starting to cover my brayer. I'm looking for a really certain sound and feel and I'm thinking that that retarder may have made it a bit too wet. I might have to add a little bit more ink or just keep rolling it out on here. Now I'm going back and forth. Do you hear that hissing? That's the sound I'm looking for. You know what I'm going to do is actually sacrifice this piece of paper to get some of this ink off. If you have too much ink, this is one technique you can do. That sound, that's what we want. This helps. If you have too much ink and it's really gummy, you can just use a blank sheet of paper. This is really pretty, this would be a cool texture in Illustrator, but you can just rub it off on a blank sheet of paper so that you don't have to wash this and start over again. Let me grab a new sheet of paper to test print. This sound is like a hissing, and then it's just like eggshell texture that you can see. That's what you're looking for to start. You'll see that eggshell texture on the brayer too, so you're looking for that noise. I feel pretty good about this layer to start. Then you just start to drag that ink across your block. I like to do a few passes one direction and then charge up again, come across in another direction, charge up. Sometimes I'll flip the block or I'll just come across from another direction, you can always drag more ink down from your ribbon. The thing is if it's really gummy, it's going to be just thick and oozy. There's a temptation to do that, but you don't need to. It can be this really nice level of ink. It's also when you pull up your brayer, it sticks a little bit. See my sheet sticking to that. It's like a light stick where I could easily separate it as opposed to a gummy suction cup. That's another way to test it. But really it's just about printing and testing and seeing how it looks. I feel pretty good about that passive ink. It has a nice eggshell sheen. I am going to put my paper on top, so scrap paper with some old ink on it. I'm going to just lay my paper on top. I'm not worried with alignment because I'm just doing a test print, so I'm just setting this on top and then just lightly securing with my hand to make the first bit of ink stick. For this method, I'll show you, I have this bamboo baren, but you might have one at the plastic barens. For that you just use a little elbow grease and push in with some good pressure. I like to hold one area with my hand. Usually it's sticky enough with the ink, it's fine. I just go in a circular motion over the surface of my block, those areas that are inked. We'll see, this is the big reveal. We'll see how this turns out. As always, I like to just peel a corner off to check. We can use a little more pressure, I think. Sometimes you can use the edge of your brayer to get a little more pressure too. I'm going to pull it off and just see how it turned out. There it is. Amazing contrast, a lot of fun texture happening. What I notice is that you can see here some of the carving marks from the back of my block. Those showed through because I went down into that crevice when I was transferring. Some of the areas weren't totally carved away. These are the imperfections that I mentioned, but I'm actually going to keep them because I think it adds just that handmade quality. Now if you find something on your block after your test print that you want to get rid of, then you can totally come back in and edit that. I like to keep my carving tool handy just in case that's the case. I do recommend. I personally like to let it dry a bit, the ink, before I'm carving again, or I rinse it off and dry it and then carve away those areas just because what I've seen is when I try to carve when it's still wet ink, sometimes it can gum up in here and then it's just more stuff to clean. You could totally carve while it's still wet, but I personally just like to let it dry or wash it off dry it and then edit those areas based on my test print. But as I said, I'm pretty happy with the test print, with the contrast that's happening and with those handmade textures and details that are imperfect. I'm going to keep it as is, and I'll show you how to print to your card once you're ready. Now I have my card here and I'm just going to add up some more ink. This time I'm not going to add any of the retarder. I'm going to drag that across here. Now I'll just start to drag that down again to ink up. Sounding good. I love that noise. As I mentioned, you'll get the feel for it. It's always just trying how much ink you want. Sometimes it's too gummy, sometimes it's too little, and just getting a feel for that as you go and practice. This might be just a touch then, but that's all right. For this first card, turn diagonal. I like to shine it in the light just to see if there's any part that doesn't look even. Looks pretty good. I'll set this to the side. Another note is to never rest your brayer with the roller down in your ink because that can leave a stripe, that's then harder to even out once you're inking. I always leave it on the back plastic part just on my desk like so. Then I'm using this card from the very beginning of our class. Another thing to be mindful of is the ink on your hands can easily transfer to whatever you're printing on. So sometimes I like to wash up beforehand if it's an art print or something. But for this first one I'm using the card that I marked at the very beginning of this class, with those registration alignment marks in pencil. For that, because this is slightly smaller, just going to flatten my card. Then I'm going to line this block up. I'm putting it face down to start. I'll line it up best I can within those marks. We'll see how that went. Then I'm going to flip it. Then what I like to do with greeting cards rather than rubbing through both sides is open it up. What if your hands are super inky? It might not be the best idea. For this, I'll show you the wooden spoon, which mine had some ink on it earlier, so make sure that's dry. Then same thing, I just do this. If you're using a wooden spoon or a metal spoon from your kitchen, just circular motion, good elbow grease. I can see here there's a little bit of ink just outside of the card. I'm going to be mindful of that in this transfer. What I'm hoping for is a really small, nice border on either side, since the card is just slightly bigger. For this, I might just come in with my fingers since it's so close to the edge there of the ink. I don't want to get the ink on my spoon and then spread it across the inside here. I'm just going to be mindful there. Let's peel back a portion. I'm going to go for it and just see how it turned out. This one really wants to stick. There it is. Nice contrast. You can see here that that texture is happening between the ink and paper. I didn't really pressure that as much as I could have, same with up here. But again, those are all handmade notes on the card. That is one way to do it. Then I would just come in and erase those little registration pencil lines. If you're using the four by six inch block first of all, then you can just easily line up your card just on top of your block, so the same size and then transfer. Again, since this is slightly smaller, I'm doing a little bit different technique. For this next one, I won't do those registration marks and I'll show you a different way to print it. Going to get just a little more ink out. Let me show you what's called a ghost print. Rather than doing this on a card, I'm just going to show you on paper, but that would be where you don't ink it up again and you just print with what's left over from your previous fully inked block. For that, I'm just going to show you on this sheet of printer paper. For that I would just not re-ink. Put my paper on top, transfer using the bearing this time. For that, you get just a lighter print, which can be a really nice textured effect. This is called a ghost print where you're just printing without re-inking. That can be really nice too if you want something lighter or more textured. I'm going to set that off to the side. That can also be a really great method if this is pretty gunky and gummy, you can just print it a few times to get that excess ink off and then re-ink. That can be a nice way to reset your block layer of ink. Now I'm just going to pull down some ink. Love it. It's looking just a little textured on the brayer so I'm going to come across on this scrap sheet and just roll some of that off, then hop back in here. We'll try that one, see how it does. For this, I am just going to place this on top rather than registering it with marks. When I do that, I like to open it up. Be mindful of the ink on my hands and think about how the greeting card is going to read. I want it to read open, so I'm actually going to print this side. I just line it up since I know the height is the same as the block. I'm just going to wind the bottom arc card to block. Then we'll see how that goes. Until then, little bit of ink on my hands, I just like to get a first pass here with my hand, and then I'll come in with the brayer and that's my favorite tool. In the next card I'll show you a bit of a different method. Using the edge of the brayer and a little bit here. Because I don't want to drag that ink into the card. I'm just going to use my finger there. Then I'm going to hold just peel a corner. It's looking good. I'm going to peel the other corner. Looking good. There's some texture from the ink happening got layered. You can see a little bit of texture here, which I'm noticing was just on the edge right there. What looks like is happening is it's getting a little bit gummy. This can happen if you do a lot of ink all at once or if you print a large run-up something I can layer and layer, and eventually get pretty dummy when you transfer. When that happens, I like to either get a fresh acrylic sheet or I rinse the one I have off, totally dry it, and then re-ink just with a fresh layer. Sometimes that can help to reduce that gumminess. Sometimes I'll wipe off the block completely with water and dry this completely, and then just start again so it's a fresh out of ink. Since there is a lot of ink on here from the last print, I could tell, I'm just going to show you a ghost print with this method. For this method, rather than transferring with a barren or wooden spoon, it's more like a stamp. I like to open up the card. This is the front, so I know that I want to line this guy up on there and I flip it over. This is just like a large stamp. Actually, if you have an ink pad that's large enough, you could stamp it in an ink pad rather than doing the sprayer method. I'm just lining up the edges and then I just push down with my hands. This is another way to transfer your design if you like this method because you could get a five by seven-inch inking pad, press this in there and then stamp it. Sometimes that's really efficient. More so than this necessarily, it just depends on the method that you like and the purpose of what you're creating, and the process that you prefer. Again, this was a ghost print. That was quite the texture. That's just another example of texture that I was not planning for, but that appeared. Just one more method of printing and transferring. I will show you that with just a touch more ink. I ended up washing, this off just with warm water to start over, and then I made sure that it's totally dry by rubbing it down with the paper towel and a washcloth. You want to make sure it's really dry if you wash it off, just because we're working with water-based inks, you don't want to make that runny. I wash it off just because I felt like it was getting these textures that were hardening onto the block. I wanted to get rid of those for this next and fourth card. I'm just getting some more ink out, and this looks nice. This looks like there's less of the texture on the ink. If you see a lot of speckles or like mountain ridges on your inking on the brayer, then it's likely that you have a bit too much. I'm going to pass this across the block a few times. Let's try that one. For this, I'm going to do the barren method. I am going to align this thinking about how someone might open this card would be this way. Now I'm just lining up the bottom edge here and then pressing this a little bit to get that ink secure. I'm going to finish transferring this print with the barren, and then I'll print one more card to show you one more transfer method. I always like to have extra cards on hand just in case I print something and I'm not totally happy with it. It's nice to have backups. I do have some extra cards here and I am going to dole out some more ink. Another way to think of this sound is like [inaudible]. I'm going to ink across my block. I going to lay that brayer aside, move to the side. Now, I am going to show you one more method. I'm going to line up this bottom on the bottom, press down and then I'm using the hard brayer that I have, and I'll roll this across the back to get some pressure. This is another method. If you ever purchase a hard brayer, you can use this to transfer your block as well. I'm just going to check it, it's looking good. This can be a good way to get really even pressure and a little bit of extra pressure sometimes onto your block. Could even come into the inside here. For the harder brayer, I like to use both sides of the card just because there is a bit more pressure, I feel like, so you could come in here to start to roll that out. I'm going to just peek here. Then you have a really dark rich print. What you can see here as opposed to something like this, you can see that with that brayer method, you get a really dark rich contrast happening because there's a bit more pressure I feel like when I use it, than when I use the barren. That's just a reminder for me that when I'm using the barren if I don't want these textures on the paper to just put more of that pressure in. Also if you ever get a hand printing press, something that's smaller and not a huge press, but a smaller one that can be good for even pressure. I do like these little textures that show up in the solid spaces and here in the notes from the back. I think that's really beautiful, but this does give just a richer black to that contrast between the paper and the ink to print. That's just one more method if you ever get a hard brayer. Again, just like the software, this is Speedball. This is another option. Now I have a series of four prints and each of them in my greeting cards are a bit different, which I love about this art form. Each has a bit of a different texture or application. I probably won't be using this one, not really my favorite art style, but these ones I think have some beautiful imperfections to them, so I do like those. Then these two have really nice rich contrast. Those are going to be my set. I can't wait to see what you've created today as well, I cannot wait to see the color you chose and the block and the design you created, and then your wonderful greeting card. That is the inking and printing stage. Awesome. I hope your big reveal all is really exciting for you in that you're loving the results of this process. Again, if you're noticing texture that wasn't totally intentional or a spot you didn't mean to carve or anything that feels a little imperfect, just remember that sometimes that adds to the beauty and also things will get smoother and easier over time the more you practice this art form. I also think the more you practices art form, the more you're going to love those handmade moments. In the next lesson, we'll talk about how to make clean up a breeze. I'll see you there. 13. Clean Up: A huge benefit of using water-based inks is that it makes clean up super simple. All you're going to need to clean up is some warm water and a rag to dry everything off completely. I typically start by filling a big bucket, just like a utility plastic bucket with warm water and I do use a wet rag to wipe everything down. So I'll place everything that's been inked except for my block into that warm water in the bucket. Then I leave the block aside for now and I just rinse off a majority of the ink from those other materials, and then I rinse the rest of it in the sink. So anything that's remaining on those materials I'll just rinse off with warm water in the sink, and then after I've cleaned those materials, I'll then clean my block in the bucket. I don't want to clean the block at the same time because there's a chance that it might get nicked or damaged unintentionally by those other materials in the bucket, so I like to clean it separately. So I do clean that last in the bucket, just wipe a majority of that ink off really gently, I don't scrub it down because of those carved details, but I do wipe it off gently with the rag. Then once a majority of that is off, I run that with warm water under the sink, and then eventually once I'm done cleaning, I'll just pour that bucket water down the sink as well. If you don't use a bucket, that's fine, you can just rinse everything off directly in warm water in your sink and that works just as well. My sink is white and I just try to be my fault not getting black ink everywhere all the time so I do the bucket first. But either way it works. The most important thing once you've cleaned everything off is to make sure that everything is completely dry. So I use a dry rag to wipe everything down and I don't stack anything. There was one time where I thought my blocks were dry after cleaning them and I stacked them and they weren't totally dry and I came back to print again and when I tried to pull them apart, they all ripped apart and the designs were ruined and I had to re-carve those blocks. So learn from my lesson and just make sure everything's totally dry. So if I'm drawing a block I make sure to dry it just on its own without anything stacked on it, especially if I'm printing multiple blocks at any point and then all of the material just make sure they're totally dry before putting them away or reusing them. In the next lesson we'll talk about sharing your class project and sending these beautiful cards out into the world. I'll see you there. 14. Share Your Work: All right. Now that you've made your own block print and everything is nice and dry, it's time to send your beautiful cards out into the world. But before you send them, make sure to snap a photo and upload it to the Class Project section so I can see the beautiful work you've created today. I can't wait to see what you made. In the next lesson, we'll talk about next steps. See you there. 15. Thank You & Next Steps!: Thank you so much for joining me for today's class. I hope you're walking away with renewed creative inspiration and a newfound love of block printmaking that you'll continue to explore. If you enjoyed this course, please leave a review. Don't forget to download your free set of block printing templates at my website at I'd also love to keep hanging out with you, so come join me on Instagram @prints_and_plants. You can also hit the "Follow" button here on Skillshare to be notified of my future classes and come join the Prints and Plants table for weekly creative inspiration, updates, and behind the scenes of the studio. You can sign up to join the table at www.printsandplants/jointhetable. Can't wait to see you there, and until next time, happy printing. 16. What's Next?: Are you ready to dive deeper into the world of block printmaking? Then I recommend you take my beginner's guide to fabric printing class. In this class, you'll learn how to use the techniques you learn today to create things like tote bags, napkins, and dish towels. To find this class and all of the classes that I teach, you can click on my name, which will take you to my profile, and then you can scroll down to my classes, and it is under the printmaking section. I'll see you there.