The beauty of block stamping is this: each and every stamped image is unique, perhaps even imperfect? A repeatable design, yes, but uniquely applied every time for an individualized richness.
There is a kind of beauty, an originality, in imperfection. Do you know what I mean? Jane Austen, in a letter from 1817, wrote “Pictures of perfection, as you know, make me sick and wicked.” I totally get it.
Often, it is the very imperfection that transforms an ordinary face into something beautiful.
On a personal note, I always say that my husband was not perfect, but he was perfect for me! Lo these many happy years later, his imperfections are still what make me feel soft inside.
You start with a design, add some tools for cutting, and then begin work carving the negative image of your design into rubber, linoleum, wood, metal, even a potato! Stamping is an old method to capture text or designs with deep roots in ancient civilizations.
Fabric -- Cotton, Linen, and Feedsack
Cotton has helped shape the history of the world by clothing and protecting countless civilizations and adventurers from the effects of nature. Cotton fibers are highly porous, making cotton clothing light and breathable, but able to be woven into any desired density. Cotton fabric can be dyed easily, making it a natural choice for designers. It is especially soft and pleasing to the touch; and, since it is derived naturally, those with sensitive skin are able to wear the fiber without any adverse reactions.
Linen, made from the stalk of a flax plant, was the first fiber used to weave fabric and dates back over 8,000 years. Linen is a lovely fabric that softens the more it is used and washed, is extremely durable, and lasts decades when cared for correctly. It was first used by Mediterranean civilizations and was then quickly adopted by Europe where it reached high popularity during the medieval times. It was the most readily available fabric and remained the most popular even after the introduction of cotton fabrics by the Arabs during the 1300’s.
Linen remained the fabric of choice until the 18th Century during the Industrial Revolution, when the introduction of spinning machines and the large plantations of North America’s ‘Upland Cotton’ became much more affordable than the traditional linen techniques. Now because of the laborious time it takes to produce linen yarn, and the manual processes that have to be undertaken, linen has become a higher priced commodity, and considered among many to be a ‘luxury’ fabric.
The feedsack story starts in the early 1800's, when goods such as grain and seed were packed for transportation and storage in tins, boxes, and wooden barrels. This was not an ideal method of storage as tin would rust and the hand-made boxes and barrels leaked and were damaged easily. They were bulky, heavy and difficult to transport.
Feedsacks were cloth bags of homespun linen, which was then considered a junk fabric. Farmers would bring an empty sack stamped with his mark or brand to the mill to be filled. With the advent of the “stitching machine,” it became possible to sew double locking seams strong enough to hold heavy bags of grain. North East mills began weaving inexpensive cotton fabric feedsacks in the late 1800's for flour, sugar, rice, etc. Initially, the sacks were stamped with branding, but eventually various prints and colors were used to build brand loyalty. You see, the thrifty farm wife quickly discovered that this cotton bag was a great source of utilitarian fabric to be used for dish cloths, nightgowns, and if you had three sacks, a dress!
All inks and paints used are created for fabric, are waterproof, and are permanent. Dennison Lane uses a variety of inks including Speed Ball, Tulip, Archival Ink from Ranger, and VersaCraft. Paints and inks come in every color. My favorite designs are those that are inked in one color and highlighted with another color!