A list of supplies needed to create block print stamps for printing on paper and textiles.
There are many supplies and tools on the market to create block prints and stamps. I have used a variety of materials and have listed below my go-to supplies for these types of stamps and prints; many of these products are quite affordable. I will note that I use different materials for creating more traditional linocuts.
If you are interested in starting out and need to start from scratch the Speedball Deluxe Block Printing Kit is a great place to begin. It includes everything you need to get started.
Rubber Carving Blocks for Stamps
Speedball Speedy-Cut (Tan) - These blocks have a reputation for tearing and being a bit crumbly. I have found that they will work well with speedball carvers and are the quickest material to carve. They are one of the most affordable options available and are great for practice or thicker lines. These blocks have a slick surface that allow you to remove your pencil transfer marks.
Speedball Speedy Carve (Pink) - These blocks are thinner and are slightly more expensive than the tan Speedy-Cut counterpart. I have found that they hold finer lines and details. These blocks are thinner than the Speedy-Cut and Moo-Carve and I would most likely choose one of the blocks to print on textiles because the block is on the thin side unless I were planning to mount the block.
MOO Carve Professional Carving Blocks - These blocks are best for fine details and do not crumble or tear. I would recommend these blocks overall because they will hold up best over time. The only downside I have found to these blocks is that it is difficult to remove your pencil transfer should you want to move it on the block or change your design.
Relief Carving tools
Speedball Linoleum Cutters - This set of tools is perfect for soft rubber blocks. I would not recommend these carvers on battleship linoleum or other substrates. I generally use the Large V (2) for outlines and smaller details in conjunction with the Large U (5) for removing larger blank areas and softening the edges of the stamp.
X-Acto Basic Knife Set - I use the #10 General Purpose Blade to remove a large area of the stamp from the block before carving any details. If the block has straight sides or long geometric angles I carve directly on the line. I find it easier to remove larger chunks of rubber rather than go back in and re-carve an area.
My tips for carving out the stamp: Get a running start by begging to cut before your drawn line. I insert the blade at a 90 degree angle until the blade clears the entire block and touches your cutting mat. I carefully and slowly pull the blade towards me at a 90 degree angle to the block holding the block with my left hand and pushing back against the blade that I am pulling with my right. This works especially well on the tan blocks and helps prevent tears and crumbles. I use this technique on the MOO blocks as well but find I don’t have to go quite so slowly as the material is less prone to breaks.
FlexCut Linoleum and Relief set - FlexCut makes high quality printmaking supplies which are often recommended.
FlexCut Slip Strop - Easily sharpen and hone your carving blades with this kit. A must have if you also carve linoleum or any hard surfaces with your tools.
Speedball Soft Rubber Brayer - I use the 4” and 2” brayers for stamps. These are available up to 6”.
Holbein Super Soft Brayer - I use the size 4 - 9.5” brayer for the majority of my linocut pieces and will use this if I need a brayer that is the full length of my stamp for a rainbow roll etc.
Inks for Paper
Blick Water-Soluable Block Printing Inks - These inks are great for rubber based materials and small stamps.
Speedball Water-Based Block Printing Inks - I find that these inks are interchangeable with the Blick offerings in addition to having great metallic options. These inks can vary in viscosity. In particular, Pewter (metallic) can be a bit runny and I often mix it with white, black or blue to get a more consistent viscosity. I have also found the copper metallic to be quite versatile and one of my favorites of the set. Additionally, there are fluorescent ink options. These have a lower lightfastness and need to be mixed with white to create an opaque color.
For linocut blocks:
Akua Intaglio Inks - Akua inks are soy-based and are non-toxic. I enjoy using these inks in my traditional printmaking settings. They work well with a variety of substrates and on a variety of different papers and are great for prints that you will print on a press.
Inks for Textiles
Blick Waterbased Acrylic Fabric Screen Printing Ink - These non-toxic inks can work well for stamping on textiles. I have found that screen printing ink works well to stamp onto textiles. These technique requires a little bit of modification to get the ink to behave more like block printing ink. After rolling out some ink on my glass I find that the ink works best when I let it air-dry a little so it resembles the block-printing ink. These inks do need to be set to be wash-safe.
Speedball Block printing fabric inks - I have heard that this product works and is already has a consistency closer to relief printing inks. I tend to go with screenprinting inks since they are in my studio, but will be trying these out on my own soon.
Black Ink Block Printing Paper - This thin but strong printmaking paper is made from mulberry. This paper is ideal for printing by hand by using a barren or simple rubbing the back with your fingers.
Other Supplies to have on hand:
Glass Platen - for rolling out ink or a sheet of plexiglass from a frame.
Baren - Another option for printing if you don’t want to use your hands.
Bone Folder - for transferring your pencil drawing to your block.
Carbon Transfer Paper - Works for linoleum blocks. Not good for rubber blocks.