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How To Make a Block Print Card for Mother's Day

How To Make a Block Print Card for Mother's Day

Artisans in India who block print and have for generations make this art look easy. It’s not. It’s a multi-step process that includes mixing natural dyes, sketching designs, then carving these intricate patterns into thick wood blocks, a separate block for each color in the design. This is all before the textile is woven, often by hand, washed, sun-dried, then prepped for printing. Which is done by the steadiest of hands, repeating the pattern over swaths of cloth draped over long tables. It’s an ancient technique carried on by artisans who handcraft these stunning one-of-a-kind pieces. When you hold one, you can feel the richness of its story and how it was made. Read more about block printing and the history of this beautiful handcraft.>



Inspired by these artisans and just in time for Mother’s Day, many of our stores are hosting special block printing events, May 12 and 13. The team will teach crafters about this 2,000-year-old handcraft and help you create beautiful, handmade cards. Be sure to check with local participating stores for details and stop by if you can! If you don’t have a Ten Thousand Villages store near you, here’s how you can do this at home.

How to Block Print a Mother’s Day Card at Home

Amy Rosentrater at the Ten Thousand Villages store in Mechanicsburg, PA, shows us how:


  • Wood block prints
  • Paper plates (1 per person)
  • Paper towels and wet wipes
  • Toothbrush for cleaning blocks
  • Cards or cardstock
  • Scrap paper
  • .75”-1.5” Round foam sponge brushes (1 per person/color)
    • Preferred size is 1” but that size is not as readily available. Anywhere from .75” up to 1.5” is fine, or cut up pieces of a similar foam material if you have it on hand, although this will be a little messier!
  • DecoArt Americana Acrylic Craft Paint in preferred color(s)
    • Preferred brand is DecoArt Americana, but other brands work too. Fabric paint also works well. Paint/ink that is too thick won’t work well with wood blocks on paper. Be mindful of consistency and test and thin with water as needed.


Try this first on a scrap piece of paper. The first print almost never comes out very well and is part of “priming” the block. Once you are comfortable, repeat these steps to print on your finished piece:

  • Squeeze a small quantity of paint onto a paper plate. The quantity of paint depends on the size of the block and number of prints. A good starting amount is about the size of an Oreo cookie.


  • Dip sponge brush into paint, then press it several times into a clean section of the paper plate to allow the sponge to absorb the paint. If you are starting with a clean brush you may need to do this several times.


  • Once your brush has absorbed an even amount of paint (no big globs should be visible) quickly apply the paint to the surface of the raised design of the block by gently pressing the sponge onto the design. Use enough pressure to apply the paint, but not too much! If too much paint squeezes into the crevices of the block your print will not come out clean.


  • Once the block is evenly shiny with wet paint, and you see the texture of the sponge on each portion of the design you are ready to print!


  • Lay your paper or card on the foam surface and carefully set your block down straight down making sure not to smear the print.


  • Hit or press the block with firm pressure over the whole block. Make sure to press all the edges, sides, middle.
  • Holding the paper down with one hand, carefully lift the block straight up making sure not to smear the print.
  • Take a look at your beautiful work!

If you don’t live near a Ten Thousand Villages store or can’t find a wood block print, you can try to create a “block print” using recycled material or carve a potato block print. It’s a riff on the original and will not produce the crisp beautiful designs of a vintage wood block print, but it was fun to do with my kids! The Met has a great online tutorial too. When you’re done creating your one-of-a-kind card, be sure to check out our Mother’s Day Gift Guides.

Block print goods make truly meaningful and beautiful gifts for Mother’s Day! Shop one-of-a-kind block prints:

Check with your local store to see if they’re participating in this heritage-inspired craft activity! If you post your cards on IG, tag #tenthousandvillages—we’d LOVE to see your creations.

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