Folksy Ltd

Block printing ink

(Oh Button Me) #1

In need of some help/advice

I want to have a go at block printing as we did so when I was at school and I loved it.
I want to make some cushion covers for myself and a hope to be able to sell some if it works out.
My issue is the ink I use
I have googled about inks but its a little vague as to weather its for fabric or paper on some of them I want to use it on fabric.
Does it have to state it on the bottle or tube or does it have to be the oil based ones that are? Or can I use screen printing ink as well?

How do I tell?

May be a silly question

(Lizzie Gillum, Bedfordshire, Uk ) #2

Hi, I think screenprinting ink is probably too runny for block printing.
Friends who are printmakers use oil-based inks to print cushion covers - obviously water-based are not suitable, as the colours will run/rub off / wash out.
You may be able to find inks specifically designed for fabrics.

Try these online craft / art supplies shops: - they sell “Speedball” oil based inks, for a reasonable amount - possibly a good “starter” set?,67,1113,-1

“Relief Printing Inks” or “Block Printing Inks” are what you need. I recommend a flat glass cutting board, as an inexpensive surface on which to roll out your inks - you only need a little at a time - apply with a flat knife or pallette knife, in a line, then roll with a brayer/ printer’s roller, to get a nice even, thinnish layer. You don’t want it too thick, or you’ll end up rolling far too much ink onto the block.
You can use your pallet knife to scrape up any left-over ink, then store in a little jar. You can also use the knife to blend inks, to create your own shades.
I would recommend colour-tests on spare scraps of fabric, to make sure you like the result, before you commit to a print-run!

Good luck!

(Oh Button Me) #3

Thank you for your reply lizzie

I’m going to look into these links you have added for me.
There is so much on the internet to find my little mind was confused.

Thank you :slight_smile:

(Lizzie Gillum, Bedfordshire, Uk ) #4

You’re welcome!
Try this video (You Tube), to see Mariann (an artist friend who’s a great printmaker) inking up some plates and doing what she calls “Mix & Match” prints.

(Oh Button Me) #5

Wow the prints were amazing :slight_smile:

(Lizzie Gillum, Bedfordshire, Uk ) #6

You should see her website! (

(Susannah Ayre) #7

I use caligo relief printing ink for all my lino prints. They are made by a fab uk company but as they’re water soluble they’re no good for fabric. (I recommend them if you want to do prints onto paper though!)
Speedball is probably the easiest to get a hold of for their specific fabric inks.
From my experience, I recommend you use more ink on the block print for fabric than you usually would for paper as some of it will soak into the fabric so you won’t have such a bold look- depending on the look you’re going for that is- Personally I like the washed out look.
I know that with the speedball fabric inks you generally have to leave it on to dry for about a week before it’s safe to wash. And even then it’s advised that it’s only washed using a gentle and cool wash.
Some fabric relief inks need to be ironed afterwards to seal them as well.

Hope you have fun! :slight_smile:

(Lizzie Gillum, Bedfordshire, Uk ) #8

Susannah, I believe the Speedball inks are ironed on the back of the fabric, to fix them; but I should think they would need a few days to dry first, as they’re oil-based. An oil-based print on paper needs to dry thoroughly, before it’s ready for framing, so fabric must need a bit longer.

Thanks for posting - interesting info.


(Oh Button Me) #9

Yes speedball does come out the best I did buy some from a shop on eBay and never received it so had to make a clam through eBay so it was a bit of a waste of time.

(Susannah Ayre) #10

There are different speedball inks. I know their most recent fabric ink is just a ‘let dry for a week’ it doesn’t need to be ironed as I’ve just been using that one. Others do though. :blush:
I much prefer the oil based inks, I think they create a nicer finish- just take longer to dry.