Lena Corwin’s book “Printing by Hand: A Modern Guide to Printing with Handmade Stamps, Stencils and Silk Screens” (published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, the same folks who brought us the beautiful Alabama Stitch Book) caught our eye when it was featured on Design Sponge earlier this summer. Her aesthetic is very interesting—rather minimalist, yet bold and printed. It’s an interesting juxtaposition.
The book is a comprehensive overview of all three major printing techniques (stamping, stenciling and screening) and their different applications using a variety of inks and printing surfaces. One of the most valuable aspects of this new book is its focus on design. We have a lot of printing books, and they all have their relative merits, and this one stands out because of its focus on developing and executing an original, hand printed design.
Some of the stamping techniques are very unique, leaving us wanting to try more and more printing techniques (it’s so addictive!). For example, did you know that you can create your own large stamps using foam mount and clear plexiglass? We sure didn’t. But you can and the results are pretty spectacular. Another unique application of the rubber block stamps that’s described in the book is using a large rubber black stamp and cutting an inverse stamp and printing on fabric to create an almost patchwork-like effect.
This is definitely something that would be wonderful to create to cover our dining table/workspace.
Another technique that we’d never thought about before is using oil-based spay paint for stenciling. With a bold stencil, this can look quite dramatic, and is a pretty simple process, making it ideal for a large-scale project like curtains or even upholstery.
Would you believe that the chair seat is printed with spray paint? Us either. Given the range of interesting spray paints available these days, you could do some really creative projects. (Although here in Portland, buying spray paint is a colossal paint in the butt, due to local regulations.) In fact, the stenciling section is extremely helpful, as many of the techniques can also be translated for use in screen printing as well, so they do double duty. Plus, like the spray paint, there are a number of mediums and tools that we hadn’t considered before, such as mylar, that are covered in the book. Our osprey pillows were created using the freezer paper stencil technique from Printing by Hand.
There’s another one of the unique elements of Printing by Hand: a very thorough discussion of the design process, particularly creating repeats, which is something we haven’t seen in other printing books. We were very excited about this, since we’re interesting in printing small “runs” of fabric for our personal projects. While some books have described the theory of creating repeats, we haven’t seen much in the way of the practical application of actually physically creating and printing repeats and pattern design. (Not that we’ve completed a comprehensive survey of all printing books, but we’ve looked at a lot of them!)
Since there’s such a variety of topics covered in Printing by Hand, it’s hard to give it an overall assessment. It’s definitely one that we would highly recommend for your printing library. It’s interesting, however, because the screen printing section is definitely more design focused than it is practical screen printing. For example, the author has obviously had difficulties with burning her own screens (uh, we can TOTALLY relate) and therefore suggests that you take your screens to a screen printing shop to be burned. While this makes a whole lot of sense, especially if you’re an apartment dweller with little space, it’s completely doable yourself–it just takes some trial and error. If this is something you’re interested in, there are a number of books that focus on the technical aspects of screen printing that you’d want as a companion to this one. With that said, we recommend Printing by Hand without reservation. For us, it not only provided us with a logical next step in our printing education (creating repeats and more sophisticated designs), it also opened our eyes to the possibilities of techniques and materials we hadn’t previously considered. All of the patterns used in the book are included in an envelope attached to the back cover and there’s a good resource list as well, so the book really arms you with everything you need to start experimenting. This one’s a real winner.
~Sarah & Josh
Note: For another take, check out Kim’s review over on True Up.No related posts...
Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.