You might think that after carving three medieval inspired block printing stamps rather recently, which were all based on extant printed fabrics from the 12th to 13th century, that I might have done enough stamp cutting for a while. But no, I have by far not have had enough from cutting block printing stamps yet.
And it definitely didn’t help that my dear sweetheart ordered a nice set of good cutting tools as Christmas present for me. Yeah, he is indeed a terrible enabler when it comes to my projects and, as you can imagine, I definitely do not object to that… 😉
Oh yeah, I got new tools for Christmas! I am tremendously excited! *happybounce* And that is great as the affordable basic linoleum cutting set which I initially got when I picked up this craft again after more than 25 years, finally started to drive me crazy. But please don’t take me wrong. Basic, affordable tools have their advantages. Some might even call them “cheap” but in my opinion the word “affordable” has a much nicer sound and feel to it. These basic tool sets tend to cost as much as one or two magazines or what we easily spend on some snacks without even wasting a second thought about it.
These affordable basic tools definitely help us to save some money during the initial stage of learning a new craft or at the beginning a new project. They help us to find out if a certain technique or craft is exciting or interesting enough to keep on practising for further development or – if not – we simply decide to put the tools aside or give them to someone else so we can focus on something else. Their rather low price spare us the nagging and rather unsatisfactory feeling that we have to continue with something we actually quite dislike so we don’t have to admit that we wasted a lot of money.
However, once we get better and pass the initial stage of the craft, some of us will soon realize that a basic tool set isn’t cutting it. And well, concerning my linoleum cutting set, my favorite knive was literally not properly cutting through the linoleum anymore. And here for me the same rules apply as in the kitchen – there is nothing more dangerous than working with a blade that is just not sharp enough as you have to apply much more force than you normally would which also reduces the actual control you have over the tool and therefore doubles or triples the possibility that an injury occurs. And the last thing we need or want while working on a project is an injury, isn’t it… 🙂
Well, as you know me, choosing a new tool set for linoleum cutting wasn’t an easy thing. After looking around on Amazon and growing more and more inpatient as well as desperate because of the basic tools at hand, I decided to ask the stamp/linoleum cutting members of the “Printed Textiles in the Middle Ages” group on Facebook for advice. And lucky me, I immediately got a great advise from a fellow stamp cutter and – even better – found a new friend in Canada. Yeah, regardless how big the world we live in might be, it can be a quite small world when it comes to like minded spirits who share such a rather uncommon interest.
Needless to say that my loving husband – after answering his usual, unavoidable question of “…do you really need it?” with “Oh, hell, YES!” – didn’t really cease to order the wood cutting set for me. Well, after chewing his ears off for several weeks about how unhappy I was with my basic linoleum cutters, I guess that he might have ordered nearly everything to keep me from complaining and nagging any further… *lol*
Unfortunatelly my awesome new wood cutting tools arrived while I was still recovering from my small emergency surgery after christmas. Despite all my eagerness to try my new tools, I knew that the combination of tremendously sharp wood carving tools with heavy pain killers was definitely not a good idea. Therefore I waited for several days until I was finally able to cut back on my pain medication which helped to clear my mind. And one definitely needs a clear mind and good focus for work like this. Especially when one plans to work with completely new cutting tools which are quite different to the ones one is used to.
And finally – here it is – the small dragon which I wanted to cut since I discovered it for the very first time:
Like the three teardrop stamps, which I just recently cut, this dragon stamp is also inspired by a printed fabric from the 12th/13th century:
Well, I used the term “inspired by” in this case because, as you can see on the picture above, the quality of the depiction of the printed fabric is definitely not the best. And this lack of visual quality doesn’t really help when one is looking for specific details. Therefore I tried my best to get a feel for where the lines might make sense in order to get at least as close as possible to copying the original dragon. Well, actually I can’t say that it really is a dragon but at least it resembles one for me and that is good enough for me in this case. 🙂
And now to the great new wood cutter set I got for Christmas:
I got this awesome woodworking set from Lee Valley Tools. 😀
I am really great that I got it as the knives cut through the linoleum like through butter. The only thing I struggled with at the beginning was the different kind of handle which is actually much more comfortable. Furthermore it also took me some time to adjust to the different angle these blades require. Well, practicing takes time but it’s well worth it and sometimes you get a small dragon stamp out of it… 😉
Btw. talking about linoleum for block printing – here is another picture of my new woodworking tools which also shows my most favorite linoleum which I get at hobby lobby:
And yeah, I love to use the hobby lobby app on my phone to get the linoleum 40% off. Just one piece at a time whenever I am in town but I don’t mind as our hobby lobby here in town doesn’t have a lot of linoleum on stock anyway… 😉
Btw., as I was just taking pictures of my new tools, I also took pictures of the paints and inks I use for my block printing as I thought you might be interested in what I use:
I really like the nicely pigmented ink from Speedball. As you can see at the picture above, I have a nice collection of the most basic colors as well as silver and gold. However, as great as this inks are, they are also quite expensive if you plan on printing a greater amount of fabric.
But there is a simple solution for this problem: paint samples (flat) from the hardware store.
They come in nearly endless color possibilities, are mixed at the store and far cheaper than the inks above. And everyone of you who ever had to paint a room or a wall and got some of this paint at their cloths knows that it is nearly impossible to get this paint off again. 🙂
And for the next step of my project I need to replace my ironing board as well as my iron. Then I will be finally able to iron the yellow and blue raw silk which I want to print. Yeah, a good project takes time but I hope to be able to start with the new tunic for my husband soon. And then, after his tunic project, I hope to have enough block printing practice to start working at a dress for myself. But please don’t tell my husband that his tunic is “just” a practice piece, though he actually might not mind it as long as he gets a new tunic out of it… But – psssst – don’t spill the beans… 😉