Bold designs, bright colors, organic fabrics and everyday practicality are the signature style of Blocked designs by Brenna Wilson. Handcrafted in Maine, Brenna's wallets, purses and pillows feature dynamic contemporary designs based on a traditional printing method - linoleum block printing. She recently shared with me her thoughts about the printing process and her product line...
How is linoleum block printing different than other printing methods? Why did you choose to focus on this technique for your products?
To me, block printing is different than other printing methods because of the carving process. I'll have a design ready to go on paper and in my mind, it doesn't become art until I transfer it onto the linoleum block and start carving.
I chose to focus on this technique because every printing session creates something unique. There are so many variables that can change the outcome of the prints such as how much ink you roll on the block, how much pressure you apply to the block when transferring it to the fabric, even the weather can effect the outcome of the print. I still get excited every time I start to pull the block off the fabric to reveal the print underneath.
Your prints are so colorful and bold! What is the source of inspiration for your designs?
This is not exciting, but my inspiration for my designs comes from actually making myself sit down and draw. For some reason I always feel a bit guilty taking a day to just draw (this is why it usually happens in the less busy winter months), but once I do, ideas and designs start to flow and I try to get everything down on paper. I then go back and pick out the ones that stand out to me and go from there.
Can you tell us a little about your design and production process?
Once I have sketched the design, I play around with it in Photoshop. After that, I transfer it onto the block and carve. Usually, I do the final tweaks to the design after I've carved and see the first print. Once the blocks are ready, I cut all the fabric I'll be using down to size then I print over the course of a few days. I then set up an assembly line of the printed fabrics, the lining, zippers and logo tags and I start to sew.
What are your best selling items and what do customers like most about your product line?
I would say the zipper wallet is my best selling product. My customers have mentioned that they like the range of colors and designs that are available. They also like the fact that my products are made with organic cotton fabric and re purposed fabric linings and that all of my bags are washable.
Any new designs in the works for future products?
This winter I will be working on some new designs for the spring. I also have been experimenting more with printing on salvaged wood. I've sold block printed wooden ornaments during the holidays for the past two years and would like to expand to offer block printed wall hangings as well.
You can see all of Brenna's designs and shop her store at her Etsy Shop.
Contact her directly at
Photos: Melissa DiPalma