‘Tis the season to get crafty, fa la la la… Okay, it’s November but everyone else seems to think it’s the week before Christmas so I thought I’d get involved. I have not yet started my gift shopping but I’m all over the wrapping and Christmas cards. In the process of this I’ve come up with a freebie for you, printable Christmas cactus gift tags!
I haven’t done block printing since I was a teenager and I have no idea what reminded me of it’s existence, but it’s the most crafting fun I’ve had in ages. It’s really easy to get set up and the finished product has such an adorable handmade appeal. I’m totally hooked and highly recommend you give it a go.
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What is Block Printing?
Woodblock printing is a traditional East Asian method of printing patterns to textiles. Simply put, you carve a wooden block and use it as an ink stamp. Carving wood, however, is really quite difficult so somewhere along the line, some genius came up with the idea of using linoleum. You can scrape and carve at lino pretty easily and create your very own stamp to print as much as you like. Perfect for fabric printing, wrapping paper, cards etc.
I bought myself a Speedball Block Printing Starter Kit and a couple of extra blocks to play about with. If anyone is looking for the perfect crafty gift, I highly recommend this kit, it includes three difference blades which is really all you need unless you’re heading for expert level!
How to Block Print
Design your Print
This is the trickiest part by far! You want to come up with a design that is sensibly carvable. Draw your design out on paper and decide what will be solid and what will be carved out. Consider where shapes meet and what detail is going to be possible with your lino cutter. Once you’re happy with your idea, draw your design onto your block.
Lino is not the only option. You’ll see from my photos I tried out a few different options. The grey rubber block was slightly easier to cut through but with that I found it was also easier to slip and cut further than I wanted to. As part of my starter kit I also had a little go on the ‘Speedy Carve‘ block. This rubbery material is not mounted on a wooden block, so you can cut it into smaller pieces and it’s super soft and easy to carve. However, I found you couldn’t quite get the detail you can with the traditional lino block.
I promised to save the ‘Speedy Carve‘ for my seven-year-old daughter because it’s nice and easy to use, and she is having fun making a snowflake stamp with it. It does make me a little nervous giving a seven-year-old a sharp implement to play with, and I would recommend supervising and reminding you younger crafters to point the lino cutter away from themselves and their fingers.
To print, I spread my ink onto a flat dinner plate, although the Speedball Deluxe Block Printing Kit comes with a designated inking plate. Using the rubber brayer (roller), spread the ink thinly and evenly and roll over the block. Too much ink and your edges won’t be crispy and small holes will get filled in. Too little and you’ll get bald patches on your print. Don’t be too precious about it though, the beauty of printing is its crafty charm and that every print is unique!
Press the block down onto paper quite quickly after rolling. I found the best way to get a good print was to do it on the floor and press on it with my foot… very technical indeed 😉
Free Printable Christmas Cactus Gift Tags
I’m going to use my Christmas cactus blocks to print Christmas cards. But in looking at them I thought ‘Wouldn’t these make cute gift tags?‘ So, I scanned them in, fiddled about and can created a printable sheet so everyone can have a piece of the Twin Pickle cactus action!
Download your free printable Christmas cactus gift tags here!
All you need to do is download, print, cut and give all your friends and family a very cactus Christmas.
I hope you enjoy the designs, as many of you know I love all things cactus and here in Phoenix we don’t get snow topped fir trees. I highly recommend having a go at block printing too, it’s really good fun and easy to get started. Get your Christmas craft on!