Books on Printing

The word ‘Printing’ is a word from Middle English (1250-1300), denoting the impression made by a stamp or seal and deriving from Old French preinte ‘pressed’, feminine past participle of preindre, from Latin word premere meaning ‘to press’, thereby implying a process that uses pressure.

Printing is defined as the process for reproducing text and images using a master form or template. It started with wood block printing in China before 220 AD, the technique accelerating with the development of the Gutenberg Printing Press in 1450, resulting in the proliferation of books and great strides in communication and education.

I own a number of books on printing in my craft library, however, their content refers more to two specific types of printing:

Printmaking, the process of making artworks by printing; and

Textile Printing, the technique of applying surface pattern to fabric.

This post will focus on Printmaking, with subsequent posts featuring Textile Printing, followed by Textile Dyeing.


The process of making artworks by printing to create a series of impressions (edition) from an original or a specially prepared surface. Prints are created by transferring ink from a matrix or through a prepared screen to paper and textiles. Techniques include:

Relief Printing: Ink is applied to the original surface of the matrix, with any parts of the design not to be printed being cut away, leaving the image raised in relief eg woodcuts and wood blocks; wood engravings; linocut and metalcut;

Intaglio: Ink is applied beneath the original surface of the matrix, usually a metal plate, with the design incised or etched into the surface eg engraving and etching; mezzotint, aquatint and drypoint;

Planographic: The matrix retains its original surface, but is specially prepared and/or inked to allow transfer of the image eg lithography, monotyping and digital techniques; and

Stencil: The ink or paint is pressed through a prepared screen eg screenprinting and pochoir;

Collagraphy: Textured material is adhered to the printing matrix.

These processes are all explained very well in the following theoretical book:

The Encyclopedia of Printmaking Techniques: A Step-by-Step Visual Directory of Printmaking Techniques, Plus Practical Projects and an Inspirational Gallery of Finished Prints by Judy Martin 1993

After an introduction explaining the different techniques; the work environment; printing presses; inks and papers; and proofing and printing, the book explores each technique in detail from Monoprints (one-off impressions); Linocuts; Woodcuts; and Wood Engraving; to Screen Printing (and the use of stencils); Drypoint; Mezzotint; Aquatint; Etching; and Lithography.

Each chapter explains the tools and materials required; their maintenance and / or sharpening; planning the design and cutting the block; proofing and printing; and colour printing, as well as the specialised aspects of each technique, with step-by-step illustrations describing each part of the process.

The final section of the book focuses on design elements common to all artmaking, with the themes of:  Line and Tone; Graphic Impact; Pattern and Texture; Colour; Composition; Mood and Atmosphere; and Style and Content, with lots of photos of artworks produced by a wide variety of printing processes. It is an excellent book for explaining all the basics of print making.BlogPrintingBks4018-02-06 10.17.22I love art prints, but it is quite a specialized field and inevitably requires the purchase of a printing press, quite an expensive outlay requiring serious dedication to the craft. Fortunately, it is still possible to enjoy more simplified printing techniques, with relief printing being one of the easiest techniques to practice at home for the child or beginner, yet still being highly effective. The following swag of books focus on this simple form of printmaking:

Print Making: Practical Techniques for All Junior Printmakers by Elisabeth Harden 1995

A good starting point for children and adults alike!

After a brief look at materials (papers, tools and paints and inks), the book suggests printing mediums from :

Body Parts: Footprints ; Finger and Hand prints and Lip Prints;

Fruit and Vegetables:  Potato prints; Apples; and Broccoli;

Natural Objects: Leaves and Stems; Ferns; and Feathers;

Found Objects: Paper Doilies; Corrugated Cardboard; Collage Blocks; and Coiled String and Wire; and

Rubber Stamps and Cork Seals.

It also touches on: Printing with Bleach; Marbling; Stencilling; Using Photocopiers (to transfer images); Linocutting; Embossing; Rubbings; Etching; Silkscreen Printing and Fabric Printing.

It has lots of fun ideas for making prints cheaply and easily, with lots of suggestions for using these prints as well, including wrapping paper; paper bags and cardboard boxes; cards and envelopes; artworks; book covers; t-shirts, tea towels and cushions.BlogPrintingBks25%Image

Simple Printmaking: A Beginner’s Guide to Making Relief Prints with Linoleum Blocks, Wood Blocks, Rubber Stamps, Found Objects and More by Gwen Diehn 2000

This book has three main sections:

Developing a Design: How to Find Ideas; Doodles; Found Objects; Rubbings; Lettering; Nature Tracings; Photographs; Colour Tracings; Wood Grains; and Tips on Drawing.

Materials and Tools:

Printing Blocks: Wood; Linoleum; Erasers and Soft Rubber Sheets; and Cardboard;

Cutting Tools: Knives; Gouges; Veiners; Chisels; Mallets; Sharpening Stones; Bench Hooks and Clamps;

Printing Materials and Tools: Paper; Inks; Spatulas and Skin Papers; Brayers; Ink Slab or Tray; Barens and  Other Burnishing Tools; and Printing Presses;

Cleaning Supplies and Tools: Razor Scraper or Putty Knife; Rags; and Vegetable Oil.


Transferring a Design to the Block (Photocopy; Charcoal or Graphite; and Transfer Paper); Repairs to Blocks; Printing with Found Objects; Distressed Blocks; Negative and Positive Carving; Multiple Block Prints; Reduction Block Technique; Sawn Blocks; and Collagraphs.

Each section details materials and tools and the process, including different methods and variations, with step-by-step illustrations.

There are sidebars throughout the book with information on the history and traditions of printmaking, including famous printmakers, as well as gallery sections showcasing the work of other printmakers to inspire the imagination and display the potential of the medium.

There are also a number of printing projects with detailed instructions from cards, envelopes and wrapping paper; personalized labels and posters; and book covers  to  children’s books, calendars and jigsaws; paper bag lights, paper fans and lampshades; and materials and cushions.BlogPrintingBks3018-02-06 10.16.56Every learning style is different, with people responding very differently to different approaches, so I have included the next three books, as they all slightly differ in style and presentation.

Lotta Prints: How To Print With Anything, From Potatoes to Linoleum by Lotta Jansdotter 2008

Lotta is a Swedish designer, whose lovely prints adorn textiles, leather, shower curtains, bedding, tableware, gifts, stationery, ceramics and product packaging.

After an introduction including notes on inspiration; working environment; printing surfaces; printing materials; inks;  and preparation, she provides step-by-step instructions to a wide variety of techniques and projects, each discussed with the headings: What You Need; What to Do; Tips; and Inspiration.

These techniques and projects include:

Rubber Stamping: Wrapping paper and Ribbon; Labels; and Pant Hems;

Iron-On Transfer paper: Skirts and Shirts;

Leaf Printing: Curtains; Pillow Cases and Cushions;

Stencil Printing: Tote Bags; Runners; Walls; Umbrellas and Scarves;

Potato Printing: Skirt borders; Pillow Cases and Tea-Towels;

Lino Block Printing: Cards; Tags; and Wall Hangings;

Screen Printing: Contact paper/ Screen Filler and Photo Emulsion Methods: Table Linen and Aprons; bags; Ties and Socks;

The book finishes with a List of Websites and Books, as well as an Appendix of Lotta’s Stencils for use in her projects. The presentation is very modern with discrete, long, vertical, grey- coloured bands of text, which I found a little difficult to read, but which did nevertheless separate the different sections quite effectively.BlogPrintingBks4018-02-06 10.17.31Printed Pattern: A Guide to Printing by Hand From Potatoes to Silk Screens by Rebecca Drury and Yvonne Drury 2010

Written by the mother-daughter team behind MissPrint, English textile designers, Yvonne and Rebecca Drury (, this book has a similar size and shape, contemporary feel and presentation and teaching technique, including seven of their own stencil designs for reader use and a list of suppliers in the back. However,  their style is different to Lotta’s Prints and they only show photos of potential products rather than providing step-by-step instructions to specific projects. They founded their company in 2005 and now produce printed wallpapers, fabrics, cushions, notebooks, lampshades and window films.

The first section of the book is devoted to:

Inspiration: Collating imagery; Composing Mood Boards and Making Sketchbooks; and Design Composition and Layout; and

Getting Started: Printing Surfaces; Basic Equipment; Materials; and  Inks and Colours.

The rest of the book discusses different types of relief and stencil printing techniques, under the general headings of: Materials List; Making Your Print; and Useful Tips, though some of the techniques have extra headings like: Preparing Your Stencil, Screen or Medium.

The techniques (with product samples) include:

Relief Printing:

Potato Prints: Bags and Table Mats;

Lino Printing: Book Covers and Pant Hems;

Rubber/ Eraser Printing: Ribbons, Labels and Tags; and

Vintage Woodblock Printing: Wrapping Paper and Blinds;  and

Stencil Printing:

Stencils: Lampshade, Wall Panel, Cushion and Bag;

Screen Printing: Stencil Method; Stencil Filler Method and Photo Emulsion Method:  Runners, Aprons and Upholstery Fabric.BlogPrintingBks4018-02-06 10.17.38Printing by Hand: A Modern Guide to Printing with Handmade Stamps, Stencils and Silk Screens by Lena Corwin 2008

My favourite book of the three, this lovely spiral bound book is divided into four main sections:

Getting Ready to Print:


Printing Surfaces: Smooth and Textured Paper and Fabrics; Wood; and Sheetrock or Plaster Walls;

Inks and Paints: Liquid Ink; Ink pads; Acrylic Ink; Block-Printing Ink; Screen-Printing Ink; Spray Paint; and Latex Wall paint; as well as tips on thinning and thickening water-based inks; printing in more than one colour and achieving the desired colour;

Design: Sources of Ideas; Drawing; Transferring a Design; and Pattern Repeats; and

Printing Methods: Their optimal surfaces and artworks; and their surface and artwork restrictions.

Each method is then explored in detail with project suggestions and instructions including a Boxed List of Materials and the Headings: Have Stamp Made; Prepare Work Surface; Test Print; Print; and Clean Up. They focus on Stamping, Stencilling and Screen Printing:


Tools and Materials:

Custom Machine-Made Rubber Stamps; Acrylic Mounts; Foam Sheets; Rubber Blocks; Carving Tool; Soft-Lead Pencil; Bone Folder; and Inks.


Design Transfer; Carved Away vs. Built Up;  Making the Stamp; Mixing the Ink; and Stamping Tips for Printing.


Custom Rubber Stamps: Stationery: Cards; Letter Paper and Envelopes; and Traveller Pouches;

Foam Stamps: Japanese Furoshiki Gift Wrap Material; and Notebook Covers;

Carved Rubber Block Stamps: Tablecloth and Napkins; and T-Shirt.


Tools and Materials:

Freezer Paper (I save the wrapper from the large packets of A4 photocopying paper); Contact Paper; Mylar (polyester film); Hole Punch and Mallet; Scissors and Utility Knife; Soft-Lead Pencil and Bone Folder; Stencil Brush; Inks and Paints; and Spray Mount and Dry Mount.


Standard vs Reverse Stencils; Loading and Stippling; Making the Stencil; and Printing with Stencils.


Freezer Paper Stencils: Chair Cushion Fabric; and Handkerchief;

Contact Paper Stencils: Dresser Fronts; and Linen Lampshade;

Mylar Stencils: Walls; and Canvas Tote Bags.

Screen Printing:

Tools and Materials:

Stencils (Paper; Drawing Fluid, Screen Filler Stencils and Photographic Emulsion Stencils); Silk Screen Frame; Mesh; Squeegee; Scraper; and Inks and Retarder.


Making Stencils; Setting Up the Screen -Printing Area; Taping a Screen; Screen Printing; Cleaning the Screen; Artwork for Screen Printing; Repeating Patterns; and Troubleshooting.


Paper Stencils: Baby Quilt; and Dog Bed;

Drawing Fluid and Screen Filler Stencils: Artwork;  and Apron;

Photographic Emulsion Stencils: Sheet Set; and Upholstered Chair.

In the back of the book are lists for supply sources and recommended reading, including sources of copyright-free artwork and an envelope of project designs and patterns.BlogPrintingBks3018-02-06 10.17.05And finally, some very specific books on printing with natural materials and stamps and Screen Printing!

Hand Printing From Nature: Create Unique Prints for Fabric, Paper, and Other Surfaces Using Natural and Found Materials by Laura Bethmann 2011

While specifically using on natural objects to provide direct impressions of life, this book is similar to the last one in that it also offers plenty of projects to get you started! This ancient art form requires no special equipment or training , just an appreciation of different patterns and shapes, design and colour and textures. In this book, Laura discusses:


Natural Objects: Including Vegetation: Leaves; Flowers; Fruits and Vegetables; Seeds; Feathers. She discusses their collection, transport, storage and record keeping, as well as Pressing Plants;

Pigments and Inks: Ink pads; Water-Soluble Block-Printing Inks; Mixing Mediums (Acrylic Retarder or Extender); Flat Sheet Palettes (Glass or Freezer Paper); Fabric Paints; Acrylic Paints; Pigment Applicators (Dabbers; Brayers and Brushes);

Paper: Art Paper; Paper Terminology; Other Printing Surfaces: Fabric, Wood, Terracotta, Ceramics and Walls; and

Other Supplies: Pigment Mixers; Tweezers; Cover Sheets; Watercolour and Coloured Pencils; Spray Finishes; Workable Fixatives; Acrylic Clear Coatings; Fabric and Upholstery Protectors; Pressing Tools; Printing Presses; and Hand Stitching Supplies (threads, needles, scissors, pins, markers, iron).

Printing Methods and Projects: Like the previous book, the author believes in Learning by Doing and provides plenty of practical projects to illustrate and develop direct printing techniques. She starts each description with a checklist of materials and general hints on the use of tools and mediums.

These include:

Printing with Ink Pads and Felt Markers: Personalized Stationery and Note Cards;

Printing with Ink on Paper with a Dabber or a Brayer: Nature Notebooks;

Indirect Printing with Ink: Coordinated Desk Set: Message Board; Lampshade; Tape Dispenser; Pencil Cup; Notecard Holder; and Receipt Box;

Printing with Paint or Ink on Fabric: Apple-Starred Hassock; and Shirt. She also discusses Design and Colour;

Single and Repeated Motifs: Printed-Pocket Tote Bags; Key Holder; Cushions, Pillowcases, Lampshades and Aprons; Boxes and Frames; Furniture: Chairs and Tables; and Ceramic Containers and Plates;

Creating Patterns and Printing Yardage: Shell Hamper; Curtains; Lampshades; Pot Holders; Sheets; Table Runners; Tablecloths and Napkins; Tables and Upholstered Chairs and Footstools; and

Printing Scenes: Wall Hangings; Covered Tin Holders; Screens; Cushions; Art Prints and Wall Murals.

She also has sections on Design and Colour Principles and Lists of Resources and Other References and a Bibliography in the back.BlogPrintingBks4018-02-06 10.16.38Making an Impression: Designing and Creating Artful Stamps by Genine D. Zlatkis 2012

Genina is a wonderful artist, as can be seen if you follow her blog at: She is also a Stamping Maestro, designing and hand-carving some highly original and delightful stamps. This book shows you how!

She starts with Stamping Basics:

Sources of Design Ideas: Nature; Books; and Internet. She also provides a number of design motifs and project templates in the back of the book.

Tools and Materials:

Rubber Carving Blocks;

Transfer Materials: Tracing paper; Soft-Lead Pencil; and a Bone Folder or Small Spoon;

Cutting and Carving Tools: Paper Scissors; Craft Knife; Lino Tools (Nos. 1, 2 and 5 cutters);

Inks: Pigment Ink Pads for Paper; and  Textile Ink Pads for cloth;

Printing Surfaces: Paper; Fabric; and Painted Surfaces; and

Other Tools and Materials: PVA Glue; Sewing Machine; Embroidery Threads; Beads and Charms; and Cording.


Transferring the Design;  and Cutting the Block.


Texture; Repetition; Positive and Negative Space; Pattern and Rhythm; Composition; Colour; and Hand Embroidery Stitches.

The majority of the book is devoted to Projects and Ideas for

Stamping on Paper: Eraser Stamps; Gift Tags; Stationery (Letter Paper and Envelopes); Bookplates; Wrapping Paper; Photo Frames; Journals and Book Covers; Postcards and Embroidered Cards; and Heart Wall Art and Posters.

Stamping on Fabric: Embroidered Bags; Coffee Cosies; Beaded Bird Brooches; and  T-shirts and Cushions;

Stamping on Other Surfaces: Clay Lids for Trinket Boxes; Terracotta Pots; Stones; and Wall Borders.

I love her style and this book makes you want to go straight out and start stamping!BlogPrintingBks3018-02-06 10.16.48 The final book also features stamping, as well as stencilling and screenprinting.

Prints Charming: 40 Simple Sewing and Hand-Printing Projects for the Home and Family by Cath Derksema and Kirsten Junor 2010

Another lovely book with a very similar size, spiral binding and straight-forward presentation to Printing by Hand, reviewed three books ago, though a much more restricted subject matter (screen printing) and an emphasis on 40 printing projects. By rights, it could also fit equally well into my next post on textile printing, since most of the projects involve fabric, but I have included it here, because of the similarities already mentioned and because it concerns a specific type of printing and lastly, as a taster and introduction for the next post!

The first section covers the Basics of Sewing and Quilting, including an Equipment List and  a Stitch Guide; and Screen Printing, including a Step-by-Step Guide to Printing; Printing Stripes; and Printing Two Colours and Overprinting.

The majority of the book covers Projects for each room of the house with an introductory page, featuring the projects for each area and a key motif, and pattern sheets in the back:

Nursery: Heart: Cot Quilt; Embroidered Heart Cushion and Mobile; Curtains and Laundry Bag.

Girl’s Room: Bird & Flower: Kimono; Hexagon Cushion; Star Quilt; Treasure Pockets; Book Covers; Bird and Brooches;

Boy’s Room: Star: Singlet; Cushion; Sheet Set; Quilt; and Pinboard

Adult’s Room: Bindi: Bedhead; Quilt; Cushions and Lampshade; Kimono and Scarf;

Living Room: Paisley: Patchwork Throw and Cushion; Footstool; and Artwork;

Kitchen: Candelabra: Tea Towels; Apron; Tablecloth; Napkins and Placemats; and Tea Cosy;  and

Outdoors: Mixed: Beach Bag; Shorts; Sun Shirt; Sun Dress; Umbrella Bunting; and Picnic Rug.

I loved this book, because it combines printing with embroidery and sewing to create highly original and beautiful functional pieces.BlogPrintingBks3018-02-06 10.17.14

I shall be exploring further books, combining all these areas in my next craft book post on Textile Printing Books, but next week, I am introducing you to our Tea Garden.

7 thoughts on “Books on Printing

  1. There is something ever so nice, even touching on the spiritual about ink impressed on paper. From the design to the end product, the craft of printing is such an enthralling art. I must admit that I find creating photobooks one of the most enjoyable aspects of my craft.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it is fun! I really enjoy lino printing, and have also done a little stencilling and screen printing. I love the carving process in lino printing, as well as the use of abstract patterning in the background to create interest- a great option for someone like myself, who has no problems with line, but finds shading and tone more challenging!

      Liked by 1 person

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