Q&A for Printing By Hand discussion

block printing--Speedball water-soluble vs. Jacquard textile color

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message 1: by Fiona (new)

Fiona | 3 comments Hi Lena,

I am a student in Otis' continuing education textile design program out in LA. I recently read your book, Printing By Hand. It's been a great resource!

I am enjoying experimenting with block printing, but have had a couple issues when it comes to getting the ink to set permanently. I have some questions regarding Speedball water-based block printing inks vs. Jacquard textile colors that I was hoping you could help me with.

With the block printing inks, I have gotten really nice, crisp edges from the printed blocks. I have also gotten good paint coverage and a good-looking finished product for a first-timer. Then I tried to heat set some test samples-- with the iron, baking for 3 min @ 350 in the oven, and another baking 25 min @ 250 in the oven (those last two methods I found on the internet). The 350 it too hot for the 100% linen I was using, as it scorches it. The 250 worked great. I then put the 3 samples in a delicate short wash on cold. All three faded, but not completely. However, I like the original colors. Is it possible to maintain the original ink color of these block printed pieces by another method? Can a dry cleaner or professional silk-screening facility set them? Do pieces still fade extensively after being set that way? Is drastic fading unavoidable with this type of ink? My idea is to make some decorative pillows-- they would not be washed often, but I would like to have that option.

On to the Jacquard product... It seems to be it very runny, even after mixing thoroughly. I read in your book to let the portion of the color you are going to use sit out for a bit to evaporate/thicken up. I let it sit out for 45 minutes and it was marginally better. It seems to still run into the crannies of the blocks (I have used both a brayer roller and a sponge brush to see which would work better for applying the color to the block). The brayer worked better. The designs don't turn out with nice clean edges, nor is the coverage even/good. However, I ironed the swatch for 3 minutes per the instructions on the container and then washed it. There was NO fading! Great, except the finished motifs don't look anywhere near as nice as those I was able to produce with the Speedball ink :(

Now, if I could get the coverage of the Speedball inks with the colorfastness of the Jacquard!

I'd appreciate any ideas on how to set the Speedball inks permanently or how to get a crisper edge and better coverage with the Jacquard product.

Thanks so much for your help!

message 2: by Lena (new)

Lena (lenacorwin) | 65 comments Mod
hi fiona,

i don't have much experience working with jacquard ink-- but i know that you can mix them with a transparent extender base. it will thicken the ink and then it should coat the carved block similarly to the block printing ink. you might need to do some test swatches mixing different amounts of base to the ink.

i most often use screen printing ink for block printing, because fabric block printing ink can be difficult to find (maybe when the book reprints, i will get a chance to add this tip). i heat set my fabric in the dryer, or with an iron if it's a small piece. i've never used the oven, but i've heard that works too. i have some slight fading with certain colors, but you shouldn't be getting a lot of fading. this is probably a silly question, but are you sure your block printing ink is meant for fabric? i made that mistake once.

let me know how it goes if you try the jacquard ink again, or if you have any more questions!


message 3: by Fiona (new)

Fiona | 3 comments Hi Lena,

Thanks for the info. I will try the transparent extender.

The block printing inks I have been using don't say anywhere on the packaging that they are/are not for use on fabric, but I was told that they could be heat set. The person who told me that may have been misinformed.I think I'll use them for stationery stamping...

I tried the Jacquard ink with a small swatch of linen and a freezer paper stencil. The runny consistency works really well for that printing method.I am going to make a large project with it and will see how that goes.

What brand of screen printing ink do you use? Have you tried Versatex? I noticed on the Dharma trading website that it is suitable for block printing as well as for screening, stenciling, etc. It had some great product reviews, so I was thinking of trying it.

Thanks for your help!


message 4: by Lena (new)

Lena (lenacorwin) | 65 comments Mod
hi fiona,
i mostly buy a local brand of screen printing ink at standard screen, here in nyc. i also really like speedball's ink, and union ink. versatex is a very good brand too. the texture and consistency of ink can really vary, not just from brand to brand, but from color to color. each printing project involves some experimentation with getting the ink right, and i can still get frustrated sometimes myself!

you've inspired me to give jacquard inks a try again. i think i'll play around with them this weekend.


message 5: by Fiona (new)

Fiona | 3 comments Thanks!

I'll let you know how my big Jacquard project goes.

Happy printing!


message 6: by Tina (new)

Tina | 5 comments Fiona, I really love using Versatex inks. I haven't used it for block printing. I screen print with Versatex. They have an additive called fixer. I add that to my ink and still heat set. Sets the ink wonderfully.
I think you can buy other additives as well to thicken or thin the ink (for your liking).

message 7: by Lena (new)

Lena (lenacorwin) | 65 comments Mod
hi tina,
it sounds like you're having great results with versatex inks... i didn't mean to discount them in my previous comment. i should give them a try!


message 8: by Erin (last edited Jun 02, 2010 09:23AM) (new)

Erin | 8 comments I have been experimenting with a rubber Speedball "Speedy-Cut" block, and tried the Speedball Screenprinting inks. I found that usual brayer spreading that you use with block inks was unsucessfull with screen inks and - I don't know, smooshy - I think they are so much thinner than block inks that they don't spread the same way. I ended up using a paint brush to ink the block. The prints were still smooshy and left ridges and "kiss marks" in the larger print areas. I read in another of Lena's responses that you might try leaving them out to let them thicken up and I might try that, with a portion, not the whole jar. Also beware that the Speedball "Opaque" colors are pearlecent. They didn't look to bad and pearly on my swatches, but it wasn't what I was going for. I do need to try sandpapering or roughing up the block. That might help the smooshyness.

As for the block printing ink, they don't say specifically fabric or paper, but being water based and non-toxic, I would think they would function for both. A lot of printmaking is on cotton rag paper, so the same fiber family, right? None of my research has uncovered ink for specificly block printing on fabric.

I'm also planning on experimenting with the Versatex Printing Ink and the Jaquard Textile Colors from Dharma Trading.

Now if someone can tell me what the pros use, like Galbraith & Paul, I'll die and go to heaven.


Anyway, keep experimenting and keep us updated. And lots of thanks to Lena for the help!

message 9: by Erin (new)

Erin | 8 comments Ok, update. Just finished a big project with Jaquard Textile Colors, with a foam mounted on acrylic board block like in Lena's book. It worked very well, and the smooshyness of a lino block and Speedball ink. The Jaquard ink I used was rather stiff compared to Speedball's textile ink. I could have used some extender. Haven't washed it yet, but it will be washed A LOT, and so this should be a good test. I got a very saturated print, not always consistently solid, but still pretty good. At least, not as consistent as I am used to with silkscreen. So, quest goes on - learning lots.

message 10: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Dolder | 1 comments hi lena im in nyc and i wanted to know which brand from Standar screen do u buy, i see in the website that there are like 3 local brands, but not sure which one is better for block printing. im new at block printing on fabric, and i agree with u that is hard to find block printing ink for fabric and the only one i found only came in a 2.5 oz size and it was expensive. im thinking of buying speedball screen printing fabric ink and using it for block printing. any suggestions? thank u!!!

message 11: by Nimra (new)

Nimra | 1 comments hi i am doing project of water base inks printing on tpu based surfaces but i am encountring the problem of screen blocking again and again...please suggest some solution

message 12: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Croxford (alanajane) | 3 comments Hi,
I've been using Permaset water-based inks for block printing, and they work really well, are easy to clean up with water, and produce a nice, crisp print. The colours are fabulous too.


message 13: by Tippy (last edited Aug 03, 2016 06:04PM) (new)

Tippy (tippyta) | 2 comments Hello!

How long do you heat set in the dryer using speedball screenprinting inks? I'm printing on cotton kitchen towels & am hoping that I don't have to re-iron them.. Thank you!

message 14: by Tippy (new)

Tippy (tippyta) | 2 comments Lena wrote: "hi fiona,

i don't have much experience working with jacquard ink-- but i know that you can mix them with a transparent extender base. it will thicken the ink and then it should coat the carved blo..."

Hi Lena, How long do you heat set in the dryer? On high? Thank you!

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