We took a block printing workshop at The Recoverie
May is a busy month for us! Not only is it Mother’s Day, but my mom’s birthday is on the 6th, my sister’s birthday is on the 16th, and my birthday is on the 18th. Oh, and Jeff and I decided to get married on the 15th so it’s also our wedding anniversary! We tend to roll everything together and celebrate it all at once to make life easier.
Some years we get together and do a family camping trip - but this year, everyone was too busy. So Jeff and I decided to do a staycation and spend the day in San Francisco instead, and then get a hotel room to escape our teenagers and pets.
Jeff is in charge of planning and executing parties and celebrations (heh heh) and he always does an amazing job. Since we’ve been busy and we’re feeling a little tired, a crazy night out on the town wasn’t really the vibe we were feeling for our birthaversary celebration. Instead, he planned an awesome arts and crafts experience - followed by a carb filled dinner at an Italian restaurant, and a hotel room where we could chill and watch terrible TV!
We took a block printing workshop at The Recoverie in San Francisco!
Being a digital pattern designer and seamstress, I’m always interested in anything to do with textiles. I don’t get the hands on experience of creating repeating patterns by hand, so I was really excited to make my own block prints.
The Recoverie is the design studio of Danielle Broder, a multi-talented textile designer and definitely a girl after my own heart. She’s a “native California girl who made her way up to the city by the bay a few years back. I needed a big change after life in SoCal, and I wanted to "start a business with my art, or something".
Haha! Same, Danielle!
In between teaching block printing workshops for companies like Anthropologie and making custom designs for clients, Danielle teaches private block printing classes at her studio in San Francisco. Her studio is located inside her lovely Victorian flat - it’s a cozy room filled with gorgeous natural light and swatches of Danielle’s hand printed textile designs.
Danielle is super friendly and fun to talk to! I loved hearing about her artistic journey from illustration to interior design, and finally to falling in love with the hands-on art of block printing. She showed us her hand-carved blocks and the textile designs she had created with them - it was so fun and interesting to see how the prints could be layered and rearranged to make so many different beautiful designs.
For our workshop, she displayed a variety of design styles and explained what types of shapes and patterns would make a good pattern. There’s skill involved in envisioning what positive and negative spaces should be left in the carving to make the print look great - luckily Danielle is very skilled and very professional! She explained the process very clearly with lots of examples, from how to plan the design to how to use the carving tools effectively - and what to do if you make a mistake!
Our workshop included all of the supplies and tools we would need to carve our own blocks, and then print our designs onto a tote bag! Jeff and I had an amazing time planning our designs and carving them out.
We decided to design our own versions of an eye motif, so our designs would go together. Jeff made a really cool abstract geometric pattern that linked together to make a detailed repeating design! He also carved a little guy in the middle of his design - which ended up looking like an alien, which is fun and reminds me of Burning Man.
TBH I was highly impressed, Jeff is gifted in many ways but I have offended the crap out of him by laughing uncontrollably at his terrible stick figure drawings. He's apparently a gifted carver though! See folks, everyone has some creative skill! XD
I made my eye with simple shapes because I wasn’t sure how detailed I would be able to get the print. I made a kind of witchy, magic looking eye carving that could have come from some kind of mystical civilization. I like that it ended up looking kind of like a lemon too! I decided to make it a yellow and green gradient to play up the lemony-ness even more.
We decided that we each use our block on one side of each tote bag, so that we could each have both designs. I made mine have a full bleed pattern, and for Jeff’s we made stripes.
Danielle explained how long to let the dye set and how to heat set it when we got home, so that our bags would last a long time. She also washed our blocks so we could take them home and use them again!
And to top it all off, she sends each student an email explaining all of the supplies and tools you will need to do more block printing at home. What an awesome class! We had so much fun, and we got to take home really cool hand printed tote bags - and our blocks! Jeff really wants to order some printing ink and print his design on the back of his denim vest.
If you’re thinking of trying some block printing, I highly recommend checking out Danielle’s block printing class! If you’re not local to the bay area, you can take her classes online as well - and she is super friendly and available to answer any questions you might have.