Sunday, March 27, 2011

Wood, brass and felt

Many 18th /early 19th century fabrics were printed with wood blocks. The wood surrounding the design was carefully gouged out leaving the design in relief. The raised area would be charged with dye or mordant and the block pressed down on the fabric. There were 'pitch pins' in the corners of most blocks. These subtle dots allowed the printer to correctly align the next impression.

Delicate parts of the design, such as a flower stem, were achieved with an inlaid brass strip. Small brass picots or pins could be pounded into the wood block to emphasis an element in the design or scattered throughout the block to give a speckled look to the background of the design.

To achieve a solid looking area of color in the design, a portion of the block was hollowed out and filled with a felt pad. This allowed the dye or mordant to be applied evenly.

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