Q&A for Printing By Hand discussion

Fabric paint

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message 1: by Gillian (new)

Gillian | 1 comments Hi Lena

I recently purchased your book "Printing by Hand". I am so excited to get started on some of the projects.
I was wondering if you could recommend a couple of your favorite fabric paints. I am looking for a paint that will wash and wear well.
Any suggestions would be appreciated and would give me a place to start.

Thank you for your creative inspiration.


message 2: by Lena (new)

Lena (lenacorwin) | 65 comments Mod

here's a list of the water-based fabric inks that i use:

AquaBrite Ink from Standard Screen

Speedball Ink

Union Aerotex Ink

Blick Ink

i've found that from color to color, the ink can vary a lot as far as the thickness of the ink, and the softness to the touch when it dries. i always wash and dry a finished project to soften the ink more.

message 3: by carolyn (new)

carolyn | 4 comments Lena,

I love your book!

I'm so glad you listed the specific brands of ink that you use for printing in the previous post- thanks! Another question about inks: in your book, you mention "acrylic ink for fabric" and "block-printing ink for fabric." I've been able to find both kinds of ink for paper, but are any of the inks you recommended in the previous post what you are talking about when you mention "acrylic ink for fabric" or "block-printing ink for fabric?"


message 4: by Lena (new)

Lena (lenacorwin) | 65 comments Mod
hi carolyn,
i'm glad to hear you like the book-- thanks!

i've gotten a few questions about this. since writing the book, i've realized that some of the inks i discuss are difficult to find in stores.

what is most important is to look at what type of surface an ink is for. so, any fabric ink can be used for any fabric printing project. for example, regular fabric ink can be used with screen printing, and screen printing ink can be used for stamping. additionally, fabric ink can be used on paper (but not vice versa). i use only acyclic/water-based ink for all of my projects projects.

i hope that clarifies things! let me know if you have any more questions.


message 5: by carolyn (new)

carolyn | 4 comments Lena,

That definitely helps-- thanks for your response!

I guess my biggest question is what kind of ink works best with carved rubber block stamps (a.k.a. lino blocks) printing on fabric. I am teaching this method to my students (I'm an art teacher), and have experimented with screen-printing ink, but I find that the prints are not that opaque. What do you use with your carved rubber blocks to get the print to be so beautifully opaque on fabric?

Thanks again!

message 6: by Lena (new)

Lena (lenacorwin) | 65 comments Mod

i use both regular fabric ink and screen printing ink for rubber block printing. hmmm, i wonder why you aren't getting nice opaque prints? (just checking, you are using the rubber material and not lino? linoleum blocks need to be used with oil based ink. i learned that after several frustrating attempts at printing!).

ink varies so much. i've found that the texture and opacity varies, not only from brand to brand, but also from color to color, and from jar to jar!

when i print with rubber block stamps, i make sure to have a cushioned surface below, like a towel, so that the stamp can press better into the fabric. and i also press for up to 20-30 seconds, giving the ink time to press in.

i hope it goes better next time!

message 7: by carolyn (new)

carolyn | 4 comments Cool! So is the regular "fabric ink" the fabric paint that you get at craft stores? Where do I get "fabric ink"-- is it one of the items you listed above?


message 8: by Lena (new)

Lena (lenacorwin) | 65 comments Mod
yes, by "regular fabric ink" i mean the basic (cheap) paints you see at major craft stores. the inks i listed above are better quality fabric/textile ink options.

message 9: by carolyn (new)

carolyn | 4 comments Awesome-- thank you so much for answering my one billion questions!


message 10: by Lena (new)

Lena (lenacorwin) | 65 comments Mod
you're welcome! best of luck to you...

message 11: by Ivana (new)

Ivana | 4 comments Hola Lena!
Have been day dreaming with colors and designs and fabric for a long time. Finding your book was so inspiring.I went to Michaels and got some supplies to get started, i am still not clear between the differences between the paints. i have a couple of paints at home
Prang - tempera paint
Liquitex - acrylic colors
can i use these on fabric before i buy more?

message 12: by Lena (new)

Lena (lenacorwin) | 65 comments Mod
hi ivana

are those labeled for use on fabric? a long as the package says fabric paint, you'll be fine using those.

best, lena

message 13: by Karen (new)

Karen | 2 comments Hi Lena:
I have enjoyed the book very much. I do find, however, that I need more specific recommendations regarding the proper ink to use when lino block printing on fabric. I have located Speedball Block Printing Ink and Screen Printing Fabric Ink. The problem is that the Block printing ink includes no specifications as to appropriateness for fabric. I also have understood that screen printing ink is not desirable for block printing. In one of your recent posts, you mention oil based ink for block printing on fabric. Could you please provide specific recommendations? I would like to be able to turn projects in the book (along with others) into reality. Thank you so much!

message 14: by Lena (new)

Lena (lenacorwin) | 65 comments Mod
hi karen,
i'm glad to hear that you're enjoying the book!
you're right-- regular block printing ink cannot be used for fabric (if it needs to be washable). but fabric screen printing ink actually works very well for block printing. if you can't find fabric block printing ink, then screen printing ink is perfect. the only issue you may have is if the screen printing ink is too runny (the thickness varies with each brand and color). the ink should be as thin as melted ice cream or as thick as yogurt. if it's too thin, leave the ink uncovered and exposed to air until it thickens.

i don't work with oil based ink, so i'm sorry i don't have any recommendations. just to clarify, in the book i use rubber blocks and not linoleum blocks. i don't recommend using oil based ink with the rubber blocks

let me know if you have further questions!


message 15: by Karen (new)

Karen | 2 comments Thanks so much for the extra information and for the great book! I can't wait to continue to explore creative printing possibilities!

message 16: by Laura (last edited Feb 11, 2009 09:31PM) (new)

Laura | 4 comments hello!
i was going to ask about block printing with water-based ink because i have been having some frustrating experiences working with my linoleum blocks and speedball inks. you answered that question already, but i thought i would chime in about oil-based ink. that is mostly all i use--i have started printing my etching plates onto fabric lately with good results, it is color safe.

oil-based inks do require mineral spirits or soy solve for washing off (although don't use soy solve for rubber brayers--use the spirits), and are a little more fume-y and expensive, but in terms of quality of color, they are excellent. as with the water-based colors, these will vary in thickness and tone from color to color and can to can. graphic chemical is a great resource for all things printmaking and they have all kinds of inks and supplies. i also cannot say enough good things about their customer service. if you want to fall down the rabbit-hole of printmaking: www.graphicchemical.com

there is also a new brand of oil-based ink on the market that washes out with soap and water: http://www.graphicchemical.com/shopdi...

these might be good alternatives for printing linoleum blocks if that is what you are after. and, although i have not used it myself, i hear that daniel smith makes an excellent water-based ink--used by our professional community printshop here for all their children's classes:

also, i have not tried printing linoleum blocks on fabric with any of those inks, just paper. because those inks are pretty robust, you might want to experiment with printing linoleum + oil-based ink on fabric. i hope that all makes sense and that i didn't get too carried away with all the technical blah blah blah.
lena, when you say rubber blocks, are you referring to soft-cut lino or to the rubber stamps that you can get professionally made?
thanks for answering all our questions!

message 17: by Lena (new)

Lena (lenacorwin) | 65 comments Mod
hi laura,
thanks for all of this really great information!
yes when i talk about "rubber blocks" i'm referring to the soft-cute material.

best, lena

message 18: by Catriona (new)

Catriona Stewart | 1 comments Hi Lena,
Ive been reading this script and have found it very insightful but there's something that I would like your advise on please: I am a designer wanting to print onto latex/rubber fabric and would like to know if you have any recommendations for particular inks I should be using. Can you tell me about inks I should be using on PVC or vinyl fabric as well please?

Thank you in advance of any help you can give me!


message 19: by Anayah (last edited Jan 22, 2013 12:18PM) (new)

Anayah | 1 comments HI Lena

Ive recently been thinking of trying to block print with lino blocks on scarves-(headscarves which muslim women wear,as i am one myself :) ) Ive got a couple of designs in mind but i have not ever block printed and am not sure of the type of ink to use fabrics like: polyester,viscose,chiffon,georgette. I would be so grateful if you could tell me a suitable ink for all four. Also as hopefully i may be selling these scarves i would like the best possible prints on the fabric. Please rain on me with block printing advice as i have just been researching online and dont know much.
Thanks in advance xxxAnayahxxx

message 20: by Vikki (new)

Vikki | 1 comments Hello Lena. Like many others I am having difficulty finding the right fabric inks, in your reply to Carolyn (Message number four) you said that screen printing ink can be used for stamp printing. However, on page 20 of your book in the choosing inks table it says that screen printing ink can not be used for this type of printing. If you could clarify that would be great because fabric screen printing inks seem to be a lot more readily available than fabric block printing inks in the UK so it would be good to know if I can go ahead and purchase these.
Also do you know of or have any recommendations for an English printing book?
Kind regards

message 21: by Lena (new)

Lena (lenacorwin) | 65 comments Mod
Hi Vikki,
Thanks for your question– you are correct in pointing out my discrepancies! Since writing Printing by Hand, I have experimented more using screen-printing ink for stamping and found that it works quite well. So, I think you will have good results using it. I'm sorry, I don't know of an English book to recommend. Have fun!

Best, lena

message 22: by Lena (new)

Lena (lenacorwin) | 65 comments Mod
Hi Anayah,
General fabric ink will work on a variety of fabric types, but you can check the label to make sure. Sometimes natural and synthetic fabric require different inks. You may want to wash the printed scarves before selling them to get a softer touch (some of the rougher surface ink will wash out). Best wishes on your project!


Anayah wrote: "HI Lena

Ive recently been thinking of trying to block print with lino blocks on scarves-(headscarves which muslim women wear,as i am one myself :) ) Ive got a couple of designs in mind but i have ..."

message 23: by Lena (new)

Lena (lenacorwin) | 65 comments Mod
Hi Catriona,
My reply is late, but I wouldn't have been very helpful with your question anyway! You are best off going to an extensive craft supply store and getting a recommendation on a specific brand. I hope you did and were able to to find something good!

Best, Lena

Catriona wrote: "Hi Lena,
Ive been reading this script and have found it very insightful but there's something that I would like your advise on please: I am a designer wanting to print onto latex/rubber fabric and ..."

message 24: by Lena (new)

Lena (lenacorwin) | 65 comments Mod
Hi Grace,
Speedball ink is a brand I often buy– is it available in the UK?
The screen printing ink can also be used for block printing.
I hope you enjoy screen printing!


message 25: by Jamie (new)

Jamie | 1 comments Hi lena

I've just recently bought your book and I needed to do some projects for my university interview. I like how you explain thinks in detail. I know people might have asked you this already and I hope I'm not annoying you by asking if I can use fabric paint instead of fabric ink? I am doing something for babies and I don't want it to irritate the skin so that's why I'm leaning towards using it.

Please if you could let me know when you have a moment.

Kind regards

message 26: by Lena (new)

Lena (lenacorwin) | 65 comments Mod
Hi Jamie,

Yes you can! Any ink/paint that is water-based and intended for fabric should be fine for babies.


message 27: by Joanne (new)

Joanne Degenhart | 1 comments I have just found this thread and wanted to say that I have had great results using stamp pad foam with ordinary fabric paints. I have used this stamp pad http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ranger-Cut-Dr... and usually use Pebeo fabric inks- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pebeo-Setacol... which come in some lovely colours if you are not so confident at mixing colours.

I have an old bit of glass that I put a small amount of fabric paint then cut a piece of the pad foam to the same size as the hand carved stamp I am using. Using the foam, I repeatedly press it on the fabric paint on the glass until all of the foam has a good covering of the paint then use the 'loaded' foam pad to cover the stamp. It is easy to adjust the amount of paint and therefore the strength of print you create using the foam pad to add or take away the paint. The paint will wash off the pads so that you can reuse them for another project.

I also wanted to say just how much I love your book Lena, it is truly beautiful!

message 28: by Lena (new)

Lena (lenacorwin) | 65 comments Mod
Thank you, Joanne!

message 29: by Poorvi (new)

Poorvi | 1 comments Hi Lena,

It is wonderful having your book in my library as a great reference for printing and print ideas. I loved it at first sight and had to have it.

I have a few questions with regards to block printing and the color I should use. You see, I plan to give a demontration on the Indian block printing technique and I have the blocks for the same. I rememeber when working with block-printing craftspeople, they used a wooden tray on which they put a bamboo mesh and put single layers of felt, voile and georgette. This was their big ink/dye bed on which they poured pigment dyes. These dyes were mixed with kerosene and a fixer before printing and were also inter-mixable to create different colors. The block is dabbed on the top and then stamped on the fabric.

I am trying to replicate the same way of printing/using an ink bed to demonstrate how it is done there. I am a little confused in which ink I should use to make such a color tray, because it should be fluid and a little penetrable through the fabric layers.

I looked at these:
1) Speedball Water Based Fabric Screen Printing Inks

2) Jacquard Versatex Screen Printing Inks

3) Dye-Na flow

Please could you tell me if I could add water to the above to regulate consistency and if I could combine them to make another color?

Thanks in advance. I am a little familiar with the inks and colors used in the US, so your experience and advice will be very helpful.

You can see an example of the tray I am referring to in these two videos:


and this:


thanks and best wishes,

message 30: by Irina (new)

Irina | 1 comments Good evening.
I have a question about block printing on water proof fabric. I know that it might sound strange, but it is for an underwater performance I am designing. Which ink should I use and how should I preset the fabric knowing that the fabrics will be underwater and washed all the time? Would greatly appreciate your comments. Thank you

message 31: by Lena (new)

Lena (lenacorwin) | 65 comments Mod
Hi Irina, Sounds like a great project. Wash your fabric first to make sure any residue is removed. Then print with any fabric ink- they are all meant to be waterproof and washable. And make sure the ink sinks into the fabric and is not just resting on the surface (it's more likely to wash away). Good luck!

message 32: by Wendy (new)

Wendy Croxford (alanajane) | 3 comments Hi Lena,
Have you ever tried Permaset fabric printing inks for block printing? They are made in Australia, but available in many parts of the world I believe. Their colours are beautiful too.

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