When I printed gift bags last year, most were experiments with different styles of bags and especially inks/paints and other media to print the image onto the bag. Some worked, some really did not, but some fell in between. I held them back because they didn’t meet my specifications for printing, but I’ve learned to show others the items I’ve made that weren’t what I envisioned. I’ve found that often others see something entirely different in what I see are flaws, and that’s what happened with these bags.
You may recognize the “Tabbies” designs from my Valentine cards, and I also print “Kelly’s Morning Bath” block prints in whimsical colors and in various combinations. Using colored bags opened up the possibilities, printing tone on tone with a darker pink on a lighter pink, a darker blue on a lighter blue and a rich purple on violet, or contrast or complementary colors.
Like many of my hand-printed items, these were a one-of-a-kind project using styles of bags I had found in wholesale and retail shops. They inspired the ink colors which I mixed on the spot from acrylic paints and printed in an effort to get away from oil-based ink, which smells like tar, in printing in surfaces like this.
Unfortunately, the gloss surface resisted the ink, causing puddling in some areas and striations in the coverage where it’s supposed to be solid. That’s what I thought was a failure, but I still liked the overall look of the bag.
But others, not concerned with the printing, liked the overall look.
Block printing is a technique wherein the artist carves the surface of a piece of linoleum, leaving raised areas which will become the image. Ink is rolled onto these raised areas, then a piece of paper is pressed against the block and when it’s lifted away the ink remains, leaving the image on the paper.
That’s fine when printing on plain old flat paper, but when it comes to other surfaces, as I am fond of printing on, I always meet up with some challenges.
All these bags and more are available in various colors. You can find all of these bags in my Etsy shop under “Gift Bags”.
I’ve been experimenting with various iron-ons to see how best to use favorite photographs and artwork featuring the Fantastic Four black cats and portraits of both cats and dogs on canvas bags.
The Natural Canvas Totes
For years I’ve been using several natural canvas bags with artwork printed on them, just picturing my own in its place, especially “After Dinner Nap” and “Peaches and Peonies”. I have two left of my last printing, including “After Dinner Nap”, below.
I decided to add some embellishments to these canvas bags, beginning with dimensional fabric paint and adding borders around the artwork, writing in the title below the piece and my signature, and adding a pattern to the edge of the bag opening. In the future I plan to add buttons and decorative trim, but only after I’ve tried them out to make sure they are washable, don’t catch on your clothing, or easily fall off!
Once I find a reliable source of canvas tote bags in a size and style I like, I’ll be printing more, including the black bags with black cats, but for now I still welcome spring with these two patterns. Soon enough I’ll include flowers as well!