How To Create Block Prints From Nature

Creating block prints from nature is quite easy and an excellent way to preserve the beauty of the natural world on paper.

Nature's beauty can be forever captured through the art of block printing. Greenery of different varieties can be supported on blocks of wood, creating a type of stamper. The prepared chunks of wood are then layered with ink, allowing the outline of the foliage to be printed on paper. You need only to walk out your front door to collect the vegetation needed to produce original, eye-catching gift-wrap, stationery, note cards, and greeting cards.

Before you begin, collect leaves, twigs, and/or grasses possessing attention grabbing shapes, surfaces, and sizes. Taking a walk in the woods, through the park, or simply out into your own back yard may yield exactly the treasure you are looking for. Clipping interesting leaves from your indoor houseplants could also prove to be a wonderful resource. Take special care to prune your selections, cutting away any unwanted or decaying fragments.

To assemble your nature block prints, you will need to acquire a ¾-inch piece of plywood for each. Paint your chosen plant life with rubber cement, covering the leaves and stems entirely. While the trimmings are still tacky, apply a layer of rubber cement to one side of the plywood block. Arrange the leaves, twigs, or grasses onto the glue-covered side of the block, pressing softly to secure their placement. Permit each completed block to dry thoroughly. When attempting to attach more rigid, less pliable foliage, use staples instead. Securely fasten the clippings to the bare block, using only a few, essential staples. Place the staples in inconspicuous positions or they may show up when you begin printing.



After drying, your newly assembled nature blocks are ready to print with. First of all, decide which paper you would like to print on. Several types of paper are well equipped for block printing. Some examples are: white or pastel colored, uncoated shelf paper, tissue paper, white typing paper, blank, solid colored stationery, blank note cards, and envelopes. You can also print with your nature blocks on plain paper tablecloths, sturdy paper napkins, and solid colored paper toweling. The possibilities are many, so be creative!

Gather the following items to start printing: poster paints or block printing inks, a cookie sheet, newspaper, machine oil (if using block printing inks), and a brayer. Pour a small amount of the ink you are using onto the cookie sheet. If you are using block printing ink, you may need to add at least one drop of machine oil to it. This will thin the ink a bit so that it is easier to work with. Begin rolling the brayer over the ink. Roll it side to side and up and down, covering the cookie sheet. When the sheet is evenly coated, roll the ink-covered brayer over the nature block's surface until the design is covered. Retrieve the type of paper you have chosen to work with and place it on a pile of newspaper, about 5 to 6 pages thick. You may even find it better to fold the newspaper pages in half, depending on the size of the paper used. Carefully place the inked portion of the block on the paper, placing one of your feet gently atop the block. Apply all of your body weight onto the block for a few seconds, trying to evenly distribute your mass. Step off the block gently and remove it from its position on the paper. This simple process can be repeated over and over again with the same or different colors of ink, using the same block to form a pattern, or a variety of nature blocks. After printing, allow the damp paper to dry completely on a flat surface protected by a layer of newspaper.

The nature blocks you create may be used repeatedly, just as long as they hold their shape and textures. Block printing ink can be removed by using a few old rags and turpentine. When using ordinary finger paints, simply use soap and water instead. Do not attempt to clean the design portion of the blocks! This could ruin the glued foliage and destroy the nature blocks` printing quality.

There are quite a few creative ways to utilize your printed nature scenes. Cover a few sturdy, different sized boxes with your printed-paper. Make sure the boxes have lids, wrapping them up separately. Cut out an oval-shaped hole on two sides of each box. This will allow the adorned boxes to be lifted with ease. You can store countless things in these decorated boxes. Place a few above your kitchen cupboards for extra storage space or a couple in the living room with your favorite photographs. These boxes also make useful containers for craft supplies, children's artwork, and all those loose odds and ends that are hard to organize. With a little imagination, you will be able to find many attractive or practical uses for your original prints created with nature blocks.

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