Printing Linocuts onto Fabric

Printing Linocuts onto Fabric

For Halloween this year, I tried out a new technique - using a linocut to print directly onto fabric.  It has been a fun way of spending time with my daughter!  Last week, I shared how we worked together to adapt a cheap top and made it into a cloak.  This week, we will look at how we printed a linocut onto fabric using oil based inks.

Printing linocut for Halloween outfit

You can see the 'Cobweb Cat' linocut we started with - for details on how this was created, read about that here.  Estelle printed it up using white oil based ink (as we were printing onto black fabric).  We did not add any plate oil or extender so that the ink was nice and firm and would not soak into the fabric.  You can see her rolling the ink out onto the linocut.

Printing onto fabric

We did a test run on a scrap piece of fabric, to check the consistency of ink was correct and to test the pressure required to transfer the ink.  We then printed it carefully onto the parts of the cloak where we wanted the cat to feature.  If you wish to print onto fabric, what I would recommend is:

  • Use ink with a stiff consistency and in a bright colour which will show up on the fabric..
  • Make sure you can spread the fabric flat, perhaps onto a piece of mount card.
  • Arrange the excess fabric so that it does not get caught in the press runners.  You need to be careful not to smudge any existing prints while you are doing this.  
  • Use a firm pressure to ensure the ink transfers from the linocut onto the fabric.
  • Carefully lift the linocut off so that you do not transfer any ink onto other areas of the fabric.

Guising at Halloween

The finished cat turned out really well, and showed up beautifully on the cloack - unfortunately, not something I captured in my photos of Estelle on Halloween!  Here you can see her with 3 of her best friends, out guising together.  It was a really fun joint project for the two of us - and also a learning process for me.  It is important not to underestimate what children can do - Estelle was able to do every stage of the printing process.  I also had to loosen up about 'mistakes' - such as a slight bit of smudging of the linocut.  What matters is creating something together - not creating a perfect piece of art!