This post tells you how I did it.
1. Select your tray-cloth. My cloth had a decorative border on the left and the right, embroidered in two shades of blue and a single motif at the top and the bottom, in the same colours. The fabric was cotton, which is absorbent and takes colour well. However, you need to be careful not to have the paint too wet, or the colour may bleed into the surrounding fabric. Prepare the surface with newspaper under the cloth and some scrap paper to one side (to do practice prints). Wear a waterproof apron and push your sleeves up.
2. Print the name of the couple in large letters. A bit of planning is helpful here, so the location of the letters fits nicely into the space. Dressmaking pins can be helpful to mark the positions, but make sure that they don’t stray into the print area or they will distort the printing. My secret weapon here, was a very useful set of cookie cutters! Here they are:
3. As they are intended for dough, rather than print, the ‘open’ part of letters such as ‘A’ does not reach down to the same level as the rest of the letter, so to print these parts I found a small screwdriver with a nicely-shaped hexagonal end and used this on all the letters.
4. Use a small amount of acrylic paint on a paint tray like the one shown here and spread it across the tray with a roller. Work the paint with the roller and make sure that you do not have too thick a layer of paint in the tray (if any of your print blocks picks up too much paint, you will get blobs on your finished piece).
5. You can either dip your print block (a letter in this case) in to the paint and print onto the fabric or you can use the roller to roll the paint across the block. I prefer the roller, so you can see how much paint is on the block. Then press the block firmly onto the fabric. Do not allow it to shift, remove it immediately. Print the interior letter shapes (the opening in the ‘A’ etc) in each letter as you go. Work from one side to the other. If you are left-handed, you may find it easiest to print from right to left. The aim is to prevent your hand or wrist catching a letter that has already been printed.
6. Next, use a small paintbrush to fill in the letters of the names. I left the ‘AND’ deliberately empty, so the emphasis was on the two names.
7. Print any additional relevant details using smaller print letters and numbers. I added two place-names and a date, using this set from ‘Hobbycraft’ (www.hobbycraft.co.uk):
8. It’s especially important that the paint doesn’t clog up in these small blocks. They needed to be ‘inked-up’ carefully – you may wish to use a brush. They need to be washed carefully (and quickly) after use. An old toothbrush can be used to gently clean any surplus paint away before it dries hard.
9. I have a collection of ready-made print-blocks that I can add in to a design like this. ‘Celebrate’ seemed very appropriate!
10. Finally the piece was embellished with decorative Indian print blocks. I used three in this piece; the two paisley blocks are from ‘Colouricious’ (www.colouricious.com).
11. Once the piece is finished, lift it and place in on a plastic surface to dry (such as a large, opened-out plastic bag). If you leave it on newspaper, it make pick up newsprint on the back of the design.
12. When it is completely dry, iron with a hot iron for five minutes. This should set the acrylic paint and make it colourfast. It is worth mentioning to the couple, however, that it is intended as a decorative textile, for display.
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