I have a favourite store in Vancouver called Maiwa that is located on Granville Island. They sell amazing artisan works from around the world…mostly textiles and clothing and home accessories (http://www.maiwa.com).
It is a luscious store to dabble in with its beautiful objects, stunning hand-printed cloths and gorgeous books about the artists around the world that create these lovely pieces. I love the store especially because the owners personally visit most of the villages, meet the artists and always have personal stories to tell about the pieces and where they were acquired.
So, when I was there a year ago, I bought these amazing printing blocks made from teak. They are hand-carved by artists in India and Africa using much the same process that I use. While I use blocks to print on paper, there they use them mostly for stamping and printing on fabrics.
These wooden blocks are beautiful works of art without ever using them. So much so that these little objects of beauty have lived in my studio as ornaments since I could not bring myself to “dirty” them with ink.
I was back in Vancouver in March this year, and of course, that involved a trip to Maiwa. As I was purchasing a couple of new blocks, I laughingly told the girl at the desk about the way I covet my previously-bought blocks and that I would never print with them. She looked aghast and said, “Oh no! You HAVE to use them. Imagine they are sitting in your art studio and saying, ‘Mom, when are you going to let us out to play?’ You simply have to!”
She had me there. I made a promise to myself to take these puppies out and use them when I got back to my art studio. And, so, they have been staring at me these few months, and I finally have inked them up and used them. I am preparing for my art booth at the June Canmore street fair (artFair as part of the artsPeak Festival in Canmore on June 18 & 19) and I thought it would be the perfect time to finally play with the blocks.
It was a delight to hold these little wooden pieces of art, ink them up, stamp them and lovingly clean them – gently with a small amount of water so they will last to print again.
So, at my booth, watch for my free block-printed bookmarks in a variety of designs. This year, my collection will also feature a beautiful little fish and sun motif, made from these blocks that were hand-carved – by an artist and block printer just like me. Someone who is making beautiful art the same way, but way across the world.