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Amanda Stowers


Pasifika Block Prints

Carved, inked and printed by hand

All of my prints begin as a sketch, typically done completely freehand. Above you'll see my Tatau Samoa print, which features the islands of Samoa with many Samoan tatau motifs. There's a lot of intricate detail involved in designing one of these prints, as all motifs need to be carved out by hand. Once the sketch is completed, I transfer the design to a rubber block to be carved - it's important that the design is transferred as a mirrored image, as block prints are printed to reflect the reverse image. 

Once transferred all designs are carved out by hand using various blades of different shapes and sizes. I typically start with the smallest blade first and carve the outlines, then work my way up to larger blades for the larger details. Depending on the size of the motif, this step can take a lot of time, patience and attention to detail. It's important to note which areas to carve and which areas to leave behind, as once you've carved off an area there's no way to replace it. All areas left un-carved will be inked and printed. 

Once carving is complete, I ink each block using a hard rubber brayer and hand mixed ink. This step reveals the mirrored image of the final print design and allows me to see any potential errors or areas that may still need carving. This is always my favorite part of the printing process - to finally see the fruits of your carving labor! 

Here you can see some completed prints alongside their inked blocks. Paper is applied to the inked block, and burnished with a baren to transfer the ink. Some designs require more than one block to register more than one color, such as the 'Ula Fala notecard pictured above. The Black Sheep print is a personal favorite of mine, as every sheep was carved by hand, making each face unique and different. 

Sometimes the print will call for the block to be used on top of the page, such as when printing t-shirts or multi-block prints. This leaves for a very satisfying step that I like to refer to as the "reveal peel".