Repeat Pattern Print Block

So this is part tutorial and part ‘look at what I’ve done’. It is my very first attempt at a repeat pattern print block but I still thought it was worth showing you. My method definitely works in principal, but my finish isn’t perfect, it could be a little bit tidier which I will sort out if I decide to take this block past the proof print stage.  

A repeat pattern block is small print block carved in such a way that it can be tiled infinitely across a surface. It will produce a pattern that will cross the edges of the block so produce a much larger (and hopefully) seamless pattern. Designs like this are a key aspect of surface pattern design, you could use it to decorate all kinds of surfaces.

You could use almost any image; something graphic, geometric and abstract, or true to life flowers, animals and objects, what ever takes your fancy.  Lino print is best done on paper or fabric, you could print large sheets of paper and use it for wrapping paper or Découpage and cover a some furniture. If you’re confident printing on to fabric then maybe decorate a tote bag or cushion covers. But you can go as large as your time, work space and patience allows. There are multiple points of registration when printing a complex repeat pattern that you must consider even when carving, not just printing. The left side of the block must register with the right and the top must register with the bottom.   Keep in mind though a perfect seamless finish is difficult to active when hand printing a detailed pattern so if your after a perfect finish rather than something that shows “the artists hand” then this might not be for you.

So here’s how I did it…

First make a repeat pattern tile on paper

  • Start with a small square of paper the size of your intended print block and draw your design in the middle (make sure no part of the design touches the edge).
  • Cut your design vertically down the middle, and swap the halves so the left hand half is on the right and vice versa. On the back tape together what were originally the outer vertical edges paper.
  • Repeat this process horizontally, cutting at a right angle across the first cut and swapping top half for bottom, again tape together across the back.
  • You will now have a tile where the original outer corners meet in the middle, and you have an empty cross shape in the middle that once made the border of the design. Fill this middle gap with more of your design but do not touch the (now) outside edges of the paper.

Prepare and cut your block

  • Tape tracing paper over your paper tile and trace over your design in a soft pencil, I use 8B, remove the paper tile and tape.
  • Flip the tracing paper pencil side down on to your lino block (the lino block must be the same size as your paper tile). Line up the edges exactly and hold firmly in place, rub vigorously with a bone folder/paper creaser or similar being careful not to let the tracing paper shift (creasing the edges can help keeping it in place). This will transfer the pencil on to your lino block.
  • Go over the transferred pencil lines with a Sharpie (the laundry markers are best as they have a finer tip and don’t transfer to the printing ink)
  • Before carving carefully consider whether you will carve the negative or positive.  What will look best and what will be the easiest to register, it may be easier it carve a negative but it might be harder to register. This will depend on your design and skill level with carving and registering. Carve your block, pay extra attention to detail at the edges, you must stick to your drawn design, with only a couple of mm leeway at the most.
  • Clean up your block when you have finished carving.

Set up your registration and print

  • Set up a registration jig so that you have drawn lines on a large piece of paper for each of the positions you will put your block in. Above that set up registration pins then attach registration tabs to all the sheets you will print on to. I used Ternes Burton pins, you may prefer a different registration method but the key thing is to mark the block positions. If you are printing a larger area of pattern (ie a sheet of wrapping paper you will need to mark more tile positions.
  •  Ink up your block (because I was only proof printing I used my proofing ink pad but for a full print run you would obviously use lino ink).
  • Put the block in the first position. Attach the tabs of your first sheet to the pins and lower on to the inked block then burnish/press. Do not remove the paper from the pins, just keep it held up or propped up if you can’t ink one handed.
  • Ink up your block again and place it in the next position, be careful to ensure the top edge of your block is always toward the top of the registration jig, carefully lower that paper and burnish/press again. Repeat over until you have printed all tile positions, always making sure that you line up carefully and the block is always orientated in the same way.
  • When all positions are printed remove the sheet from the pins and hang to dry.

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What I learned from my mistakes. Make the block perfectly absolutely square not even a mm out. Keep it fairly simple the first time, just because your carving abilities allow for the design doesn’t mean your registration abilities will be strong enough. So design carefully.

I’m definitely going to try a repeat tile again as a covering for my desk top (my actual physical wooden desk not the computer kind) its looking rather boring.  If you give this a try then I’d love to see what you made.




Patch Fixing A Lino Block With Sugru

I thought I’d repost this from my Facebook and Instagram last year, as patch repair and redesign comes up ALOT in different printing groups I’m a member of. And I’ve shared this technique on quite a few groups and people have found it very helpful. (I have edited it slightly since the original post)27073222_990064457814497_2181664940312003121_n

This was a challenging block for me not just because it was the largest and one of the most detailed blocks I’d cut (at that time), but because I needed to do a patch repair. I simply didn’t like what I’d cut from my sketch. Carving a print block is a very “definite” kind of process, you can’t rub out the lines you don’t like as you would with a sketch. Once it’s cut, it’s cut… well almost…

I read up about various ways of repairing a lino print block. Some people glue a fresh patch of lino in place but that often doesn’t result in a flush well fitting patch which will lead to issues with inking and printing. Some use wood fillers or similar, this is a quick and easy repair but the filler doesn’t carve well and can crumble (if just want to fill in one stray line and not re-carve I’d recommend wood filler). If you have an area you want to re-carve Sugru is the way to go, you can make the patch an exact flush fit, and it carves well (Sugru even recommend it for making rubber crafting stamps). So here’s how I did it:


1. Decide what you’ve done is a pile of poo but don’t throw it across the studio, in a fit of artistic temperament rage.
2. Cut away all of the area you want to change.
3. Get some Sugru and read the instructions.
4. Fill the cut away space with Sugru, using small bits at a time making sure to push it in well. Try to get a fairly even and level surface, it is better to be slightly higher than the surface of the lino, you defiantly don’t want it to be lower than the lino surface.
5. Before it hardens make a nifty thumb cushion for your barren with the excess. Wait 24hrs for it to harden, do not be impatient, if you don’t wait it may not carve as well. Give your carving hands a rest for the night and have a drink instead.
6. Very carefully sand away using fine grit wet and dry sand paper till the surface is flush and smooth.
7. Very very carefully clear away any excess Sugru from the adjoining areas. The random dentist tools your father-in-law (who’s not a dentist) gave you may come in handy.
8. Re-carve the area with your new (more considered / error free) design.
9. Do a proof print and feel happy.

I’ll finish this post with a quote from the wonderful Bob Ross; remember that in art “There are no mistakes just happy accidents”. I made a little piece from one of my misprints (I always keep them to trail mixed media or make something new), with this quote and its stuck to my studio wall to remind me. So remember when you are carving a block and printing your prints you are a human not a digital printer. Your work will have print characteristics tell tail signs of the “artists hand”. So don’t be in to much of a hurry to fix something, maybe you can make it in to something else even more beautiful. 32157013_10158017926918084_2539636036393238528_n


Happy First Birthday

Screenshot (4)So Today marks The Stone Sheep Studio’s First Birthday, and what a great first year its been!
This time last year I posted a Facebook status telling friends about my hand printed cards they could buy from Etsy. I had some vague ideas but I wasn’t so sure I could do much more than cards. Truth be told I just didn’t have the confidence to be “an artist”. But I was still proud to just be doing my thing as a “maker”. I know its something many of my artist friends identify with – yes know who you are, and you are *artists*. It’s tough to stand there and say “My name is Rosie, and I’m and artist.” But I can do it now, just about, and I don’t feel like a fraud because I don’t have a fancy degree or a regular paid job. I do however have my “Artistic Practice Licence” which you too can download, edit and print off .
So in my first year I’ve done a fair bit and learned a lot as I’ve gone along. Made 100’s of prints, literally put blood, sweat and tears into my work, and even managed to sell quite a few pieces! Had a piece auctioned for charity. Launched my first exhibition, which is still on and going quite well at Creative With Nature, Todmorden. I have two other exhibitions coming up later in the year, one during Todmorden Open Studios when I’ll be back at CWN and another that I’ll publish details for at a later date. I’ve honed (that really is a lame and unintended pun) my lino cut skills, properly found my “style”, and just started to branch out in to screen print.
So what next? Well I’ll be starting work on my new collection of prints very soon: “Pattern Works”, taking inspiration from surface patterns around the world and throughout history and layering, mixing and morphing them into my prints… you’ll see what I mean. Maybe I can work on getting something ticked off my artist’s bucket list; give me a shout if you know a small batch gin producer that’s looking for artwork on their bottles or vinyl record label that’s looking for art work on limited edition LPs <crosses fingers> – that really would be cool. So here’s to another busy year!

Screen Printing Course with The Egg Factory

30909695_10157976081958084_954509559_oA few months ago at an auction I placed the winning bid on a screen printing course with The Egg Factory in Hebden Bridge. It is a creative Co-working space and screen printing studio, with a wide variety of artists as members of the co-op, most of whom specialise in screen printing.

I was so excited to do my course but work load wise needed to wait till I had my exhibition launched. I though it would be a great skill to have under my belt as an artist, especially as a mixed media print maker. My only previous experience of screen print was from GCSE art, but this course was a world away from the one lesson I did 20ish years ago, my god the print I produced back then was shockingly bad! But I could say the same about the one lino print I produced at school and probably some of my early lino prints as an adult.

Anyway the weekend of my course finally came. I had the most amazing time and I think produced some fairly decent prints. My course was run by Amy who was a fantastic tutor, she provided all the support and guidance I needed and at the same time encouraged independence. She allowed full creativity, so I could develop the rough ideas I arrived with in my sketchbook and mind, she gave me great advice on how I could turn my ideas into prints.


The course was very comprehensive but still relaxed considering it was just one weekend long, I certainly feel like I learnt so much. I covered everything you need to get started as a screen printer including coating and exposing a screen using the photo emulsion, two colour separation, registration and handling your squeegee correctly. I had a little bonus of being taught about mixing inks and extender and screen flooding.


So here’s a little slide show of what I produced over the weekend. I went with the intention of beginning a new phase of work for me, layering contrasting and complimentary patterns, working with negative spaces that form shapes among a pattern, and creating patterns that morph across the print.

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I’ve totally fallen in love with screen print! I’ll certainly be including it in some of my work now. The images and marks it’s possible to produce with screen print are in some ways different from linocut but still have the bold and crisp quality of print that I love. Its definitely a quicker, more immediate way of producing the image you want, which can help when the ideas are flowing fast. But still for me, print is not about producing multiple copies, it’s about making an image that can not be made in any other way, multiple copies are just an added bonus. I think I’ll be able to make the two work well together in mixed media prints, combing screen print, lino print and hand drawn illustration. I’ll be getting myself a little frame and squeegee to produce screen print elements for my work. Then when my littlest starts school I’ll be joining up to their co-op work space. So watch this space for more screen print!

Finally many thanks to Amy and everyone at The Egg Factory for a brilliant weekend!




Creative With Nature Spring Exhibition

A two month exhibition showcasing local artists launching 6th April 2018

The Creative With Nature Spring Exhibition is my *FIRST EVER* exhibition, I am exhibiting as a newbie, along side well established local artists Naomi Neal, Philip Pearson and Laura Barns. After being offered the space last year, several months of hard work went into getting my Organic-Inorganic collection ready and beginning two other collections – Microscope and Telescope.

I was so excited and nervous to launch, and thought to myself if I sell just one piece during the whole exhibition, I’ll be happy and consider it a success. Well its safe to say that it’s been a success and a massive boost to my self confidence as an artist (I’ve only just got used to calling myself an artist), as I’ve sold several pieces since. So thank you, so very much, to everyone who has supported me in one way or another for my first exhibition. The past week and a bit I’ve been busy finishing, framing, preparing gallery replacements and posting work out. There was me thinking I’d get a rest after I’d launched, but actually I’m quite happy that I don’t.