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Get Started with Block Printing

All the tools you need for block printing on paper

Before you get stuck in on this list I want to emphasize that you do not need much to start block printing. I’ve included all of my tools and several options in hopes of providing an entry point for anyone interested in starting to block print.

All you need to get started is a linoleum cutter, some kind of carving block, a stamp pad, and a piece of paper. That’s it!

I’ve included links to each product because I know it’s often easier to look at all the details and a picture of an item, especially when you are doing a little comparison shopping. I’ve listed multiple vendors including Dick Blick, Amazon, and Etsy. Please note that all of the Amazon links are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase through Amazon using one of these links I will receive a small commission from the sale.

Carving Tools & Kits

There are two ways to think about getting your first set of tools together. One is to go super simple and buy a pre-made kit, the other is to pick and choose exactly what you want. I’ve included both options below, but in case you are wondering how I got started, I went for the build-your-own kit method.

Speedball Linoleum Cutter

This was the first piece of kit I bought. It’s rough and ready, comes with an assortment of blades and most importantly it’s very affordable.
Blick
Amazon

Stamp Carving Kit

Between the two kits, I’ve listed I would go for this one primarily because it comes with 15 stamp pads rather than a tube of ink. For me, it’s easier to use ink pads because I have limited space and don’t want to deal with the cleanup of ink applied by roller.

Kit comes with:

  • 3 rubber blocks
  • Brayer
  • Lino carving tool
  • Precision Knife kit
  • 15 stamp ink pads

Amazon

Speedball Water-Based Block Printing Starter Set

This is a great kit if you want to explore using tubes of ink rolled out with a brayer.
Kit comes with:

  •  4” x 6” Speedy Carve block
  • Linoleum cutter handle
  • #1, #2, #5 linoleum cutters
  • 1.25oz. Tube of Black Water-Soluble Block Printing Ink
  • 4” Soft Rubber Pop-In Brayer
  • Instruction booklet  
    Blick
    Amazon

Olfa Snap-Off Blade Cutter

Technically this isn’t a carving tool, but it is one I use a lot. I like the Olfa snap-off cutter because as soon as the blade is dull I can snap off the tip and start fresh. I also often use the butt of the cutter to transfer my drawings to the block.
Blick
Amazon

Carving Block

Speedball Speedy Carve Block

This is my preferred carving block. It might be the pink color that’s swaying me, but I love how smooth it is and that it lives up to its easy name.
Blick
Amazon

Blick Readycut Printing Block

This block comes in a close second for me. I like that as you carve away the gray you can see the white below. This makes it really easy to see how your image will look once it’s printed.
Blick

Soft-Kut Printing Block

This block is almost identical to the pink Speedy Carve, but it’s gray and has a slightly firmer feel.
Blick
Amazon

Ink Pads

Tsukineko VersaMagic Dew Drop Tuxedo Black Ink Pad

I love that you can buy one of these ink pads at a time. The JetPens link has a variety of colors, the Amazon link below is for black.
JetPens
Amazon

Tsukineko VersaMagic Dew Drop 12 Color Set (with black)

This was the first set I purchased, it has a wonderful variety of colors and I sometimes like to layer the colors on top of one another for extra dimension.
Amazon

Ranger Archival Ink Pads

These come in a wide range of colors and are the traditional rectangle shape which can be great for inking up larger blocks.
Blick
Amazon

Sketchbooks, Tracing Paper, and Newsprint

Archer & Olive Dot Grid Notebooks (A5)

This is the notebook I’ve been using for my 52 block prints project. Their notebooks are wonderful! The paper is thick and smooth and they lay fairly flat when open. Some might not like that it has the dot grid pattern, but for me, it was helpful to use it as a guide during printing. The dots are hardly noticable once the entire page is filled with printing.
Archer & Olive

Archer & Olive Blank Paged Notebooks (A5)

I recently snagged a blank paged notebook during their Black Friday sale. I’m looking forward to giving it a try in the coming year.
Archer & Olive

Strathmore Vision Mixed Media Pad

I bought this spiral-bound sketchbook several years ago because I was being a little too precious about my nicer sketchbooks (if you know you know). I really love that the paper is smooth and a little thick so that if I test a stamp on it it doesn’t bleed through to the other side.
Blick
Amazon

Leuchtturm 1917 Sketchbook Medium (A5)

I’m a big fan of Leuchtturm notebooks and sketchbooks. They come in a variety of sizes and colors, but I usually go for the A5.

Leuchtturm
Amazon

Canson Artist Series Tracing Paper Pad

I used the window method for a little while to transfer my drawings to my printing block. After a few months of doing this, I decided to purchase a pad of tracing paper. It was a very good idea.
Blick
Amazon

Blick Studio Newsprint Pad

I use newsprint as scrap paper. I like that it absorbs extra ink and I often use it to mask off areas where I don’t want my block to print.
Blick

Blank Cards for Printing

Blank Stationary Set with Kraft Envelopes

I chose these because they are nice and smooth for printing. I love the size and the kraft envelopes too.
Etsy

Mini Stationary Set with Solid Red Square Envelopes

These were just too cute to pass up. The seller does say that these cannot be sent through the mail, but truth be told I’m gonna give it a try. A long time ago I sent a card this small and it arrived! I know it might not make it, but I’m gonna give it a try. It’s always nice to hand deliver a card if the post doesn’t work out.
Etsy

Bits & Bobs

Thick Acrylic Block

This is a very luxurious tool, one that I didn’t invest in for many months. I use double-stick tape to attach my carved block to the thick acrylic block. Doing this decreases the amount of ink that ends up on my fingers (a big plus) and it helps get an even print since your press is distributed more evenly. This is by no means a required tool.
Amazon

6”x8” Olfa Rotary Cutting Mat

I LOVE this little cutting mat. When I bought it many years ago I was completely influenced by the cute size and honestly had no idea what I was going to do with it. Now I use it every week as I carve my block prints. I love that it’s small and can be easily turned as I carve, it also does a great job of holding my block in place.
Amazon


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