hand printed tea towel tutorial

Just in time for Mother’s Day, guest contributor, Amy Rowan of art school girl and click+pixel (yes, she is that multi-talented), demonstrates a d.i.y. project that would make a sweet gift and could also double as wrapping. And don’t worry if your carving skills aren’t up to par – Mom will be thrilled with polka dot smears as much as perfect poppies. She saved that ashtray you crafted for many years after all, even though she never smoked. Play around with the design and experiment with stamp placement. Whatever the result, you won’t be disowned.

how to custom print tea towel

tea towel (or canvas tote, cocktail napkins)
fabric paint
speedy cut block
carving tool
x-acto™ knife
mylar or tin foil (to roll paint out on)

1. Draw your design with a #2 pencil on paper. Remember that you want to keep things simple and play with solids and patterns. See Genine Zlatkis‘ site for gorgeous inspiration.
2. Simplify design down to lines and solid areas.
3. Graphic side down, press the drawing hard but evenly to your carving block to transfer the design. At this point you can draw right on the block to strengthen lines, make changes or if you’re feeling confident, directly on the stamp.
4. Using the carving tool, remove the areas NOT to be inked. Start by creating the straight lines and finish by removing the larger negative areas. This sounds simple, but it is easier to make a mistake than you think. The carving tool will also try to get away from you, so mind it closely.
5. With a pencil, darken areas that are raised to help see what still needs to be carved away. (optional but helps)
6. At this point I like to test my stamp. If you have a dark ink pad, go ahead and stamp it to see if you missed any areas or would like to edit a bit more.
7. Using the brayer, mix the ink color you want. I used mylar and tin foil as my mixing palettes.
8. Roll the inked brayer over the stamp design.
9. With both hands, press the stamps firmly and evenly onto the fabric.
10. Repeat steps 7,8,9 for each stamp, letting the paint dry in between color/layer changes.
11. Check your paint and fabric care instructions. Iron to heat set ink.

Then of course present to Mom and wait for the hugs to happen. Amy thought her initial design, “looked a bit like a blood-shot eye, so I added the pink layer and leaves.” We don’t see it but here’s a remedy if you feel yours too looks more ‘tied one on’ than ‘put the kettle on’.
diy printed fabric
Thanks for the custom tea towel tutorial, Amy!

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