Recently, I started a club called Craft Lab, where each month a group of people gather to make something by hand together. One motivation for starting the group was to spend time being creative with like-minded people, since crafting for me is usually a solitary activity. I get to be social and crafty, without sacrificing one for the other. Another reason was to motivate myself to try new applied arts, pushing my creativity outside its comfort zone. And finally, the group gives me another forum to get inspired by the work of other people. It’s thrilling to watch my friends’ artworks unfold.

At our inaugural meeting we printed on fabric using rubber blocks, a modern substitute for linoleum, which is much harder to cut. The basic steps are to create a simple silhouetted design, transfer it onto the block, carve away what you don’t want to print, ink the block with a brayer, press the block onto the fabric, and voilà! printed fabric.

Here is a sampling of what we made:

Maribeth Pomerantz made this incredible design of foxes and birds,
then repeated it for an all-over pattern.
Fran Duncan waltzed these jaunty espresso makers across her fabric.

Jen Smith repeated a seashell motif, connecting each print
to create a beautiful, almost abstract pattern.

 

Carleen Madigan repeated a beautifully simplified botanic print
across the edge of a towel. It’s going to make a great Mother’s Day gift!

 

Sarah Guare wins the cute award for these ladybugs crawling across her towels.
I printed a rooster motif onto vintage fabric that I’ll sew into dish towels
once I add a bit of detail in other colors, like a sun and a swash of ground. Here they are hanging in my office to dry.

I find it interesting that we all brought similar fabric: new linen with a vintage tea-dyed hue, actual vintage cloth in a natural color, or flour-sack dish towels. Something is in the air!

Alethea Morrison

Alethea Morrison is the author of Homegrown Honey Bees. She lived in San Francisco with her husband, photographer Mars Vilaubi, before stepping into the wild yonder of rural Massachusetts… See Bio

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