Japanese double sided relief printing vinyl is a great alternative to traditional lino. It is easy to carve and gives a clean cut, the smooth surface gives an even print and it takes fine detail very well. Both the green and the blue sides can be used making it very economical, and the fact that it has a black core means it is very easy to see where you have carved. In this Customer Review of the Month, Vesta Dobreva-Stefanov shares her thoughts on the vinyl.
Japanese Double Sided Relief Printing Vinyl
by Vesta Dobreva-Stefanov
For the last 25 years I’ve been working as a pattern-maker in the fashion industry. Several months ago I’d never heard of Japanese vinyl, but now it is my passion.
My interest in block-printing started after seeing the work of an amazing artist Ali Baecker. I met her as a guest teacher through a website where I’m studying Surface Pattern Design.
My personal philosophy of self-realisation is that you need small victories that keep you running in the right direction to your big victory ahead. Block-printing is like a metaphor for this – you carve small pieces, you print them next to each other, sometimes in different patterns of relation, you experience instant gratification, but also while working on so many other tools in your life:
- The tool of relaxation – once taken by the flow, you remember it deeply.
- Brain-hand coordination.
- Learning the skill of strategy – moving in special algorithms.
- Controlling your patience.
- The ability to let go, to forgive yourself for mistakes.
- Raising your standards along the way.
And all that comes from a small block, good carving tool, an ink pad and a simple decision.
There is a great choice of materials on the market for block-printing. I can say, I’ve tried nearly all of them! They are categorised from soft to hard; soft, being like Speedball Speedy Carve and Essdee SoftCut, and hard, being linoleum.
I haven’t been able to source Japanese vinyl in the USA, so I was lucky I browsed Jackson’s website a couple of months ago and discovered it, and ordered some to test. From the first carve I knew this material loved me. Every carving stroke formed a visual delight in my mind. I got instantly hooked!
It combines the best of both worlds – it has some resistance, but not as the hard linoleum, and it doesn’t have the springiness of soft-carve. Other things I love about it:
- It can be cut to shape with big scissors.
- I can carve the tiniest lines of hatching and cross-hatching.
- When I carve, there is a darker core inside, so my lines are visible clearly.
- It washes perfectly with dishwashing soap and a sponge.
- It takes a tape on the back side which I can use as a handle.
- Also the price is very affordable, to the point of experimenting without painful cost.
Next time you’re thinking of getting a meaningful gift for loved ones, I recommend a small block of Japanese vinyl, two good quality carving tools, an ink pad, and a good audiobook.
The ability to design, execute and print your own idea gives me great happiness – the feeling of accomplishment and joy! And we, as human beings, should appreciate, share and inspire each other with our small and big accomplishments. Art is a moving target, but the process makes us a part of one tribe.
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