a weaving blog

A blog about weaving, art, and family by NANCY FARR BENIGNI

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I Have a Little Obsession

Yeah, I do. I am obsessed with textile printing blocks, and have been collecting them since I was a student at Kent State. At that time, a friend of mine had just returned from Africa and had brought these back for me...

They are hand carved wooden blocks, some of them quite old and quite well used. Textile stamps such as these have been used for many centuries to adorn woven fabrics and garments. Ancient
Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians were familiar with this process, and extant bits of boldly printed cloth from China date back to some time before 220 AD.
Woodblocks for printing are usually made from box, lime, holly, sycamore or pear. They are several inches thick to prevent warping, and larger blocks are made up of several pieces of wood glued together. The block is planed flat, the design drawn on the surface, and then painstaking hand carved.

Amazing, right?
I've used these blocks over and over, and have added many more to my collection over the years.
From time to time I'll post photos of some of them and talk about how they are used. My favorite, of the originals, is this rabbbit. He has appeared in many places. On a twill fabric...

And on rice paper... 

Printed with this, (but more on that later.)

Here is just one more...

Printed on paper with batik wax.

So... I  printed with batik wax, painted the paper, ironed out the wax, and painted again so that the color and pattern are layered and textural. I would have to say that using the textile printing blocks this way is the most spontaneous and fun.
That is just the beginning... much more to come.
Happy Holidays, and thanks for following!


  1. Gorgeous images! I love this post :)

  2. Your work is so beautiful, Nancy! Thank you for sharing your techniques and thoughts with us.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,