Handmade Thank-You Cards: Ink-Block Prints

Martha Stewart Weddings, 2003

Make an impression with ink-block printing, an art form dating back to ninth-century China. Once you've cut out a design, these cards (or envelopes) can be generated quickly. Then you can handwrite words directly on the cards or add a label, as we did for the striped envelope. The laurel-leaf card was made by printing the design on a brown sheet of paper, which was then glued to a plain off-white card.





To make an ink-blot print, you can get the tools you need from an art-supply store. Start by choosing your image -- a flower, a particular script, or a drawing of your own -- and, using a photocopier, reduce or enlarge to fit a plain store-bought card of your choice. Cut ink block to approximate size of card, allowing for a border if desired.


1. Lay tracing paper over design, and trace with a pencil. Next, transfer image to block by placing paper facedown and rubbing gently with fingernail. Carve design into block using a linoleum-cutting tool with hollow side facing up. The carving will be a mirror image of the finished print; only uncarved areas will pick up ink -- not the image itself. (If you want the image to pick up the ink, as shown in the wedding-ring and small-leaf cards above left, cut away the background, so the image will be raised. For this technique, your ink block would not need to be as large as the card.)


2. Squeeze a dollop of block-printing ink onto a paper plate; roll brayer tool over ink until covered with a thin, even layer. Use brayer to coat the block thoroughly with ink.


3. Place card facedown on block; rub card gently with flat wooden paddle to coat evenly (it's best to test with scratch paper first). Reapply ink for each print. After three prints, wash block with warm, soapy water and dry it with a lint-free cloth.



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