My friend Caryn in Santa Fe sent me some samples and we've reconstructed her methods below for using the vintage textile block stamps with metal mesh.

Supplies:

  • Vintage wood textile blocks (the kind used for batik on fabric)

  • Metal mesh (I've used brass, since it's what I have)

  • Source of heat with flame (I use my gas stove top but a butane torch will also work -- a heat gun will not)

  • Art stix (or something similar -- these are colored pencils without the wood) -- I think that crayons and other waxy items would work (I've also used a metallic pencil)

  • Tongs (or something else to hold the mesh because it will get hot)


Instructions:

1. Cut a piece of metal mesh large enough to cover your stamp including a generous border.
2. Place the mesh on top of the textile stamp and hold firmly in place.
3. Use the art stix or crayon to transfer the design onto the mesh (you are creating a rubbed impression). Try to get as much detail as you can but it doesn't have to be a perfect print.
4. Using the tongs, hold the mesh with your design on it over the flame of a gas stove top (heating from below) or alternatively, use a small handheld torch to apply the heat from the top.
5. After a few seconds (depending on the intensity of the heat source), the metal will begin to color and your design will be embedded in the mesh. Note that there is some initial smoking as some of the pencil burns off. This doesn't last long.
6. Stand back and admire your designs. 

Metal mesh printed on by textile block 1.
Metal mesh printed on by textile block 2.

1. Be careful when cutting or handling metal mesh. The edges are sharp and it can cut you. Please use necessary precautions, like wearing protective gloves.
2. The mesh can be torn. Just cut a snip, then tear in a straight line from your snip. Be careful as mentioned in Note 1.
3. I've used vintage wood textile blocks but anything that you can create a rubbing with on the metal mesh will work. It needs to be firm -- (I don't think rubber stamps will work).
4. Try drawing directly on the mesh with a colored pencil. You will need to press down firmly and perhaps go over your lines a couple times but this should work also. Essentially, the wax in the pencil is acting as a resist.
5. For the brass, if you leave it in the flame long enough, the design takes on a rusty color. Although the design is embedded, the rust seemed to continue to come off on my fingers even after rinsing. To prevent this, especially when using the patterned mesh to make items that will be handled, use a sealant to finish.
6.The designs that work best should have finer lines and not large solid areas. Anything that you could do a successful rubbing on paper should work well. I've attached two samples.
7. Please note that the sample on the right is on copper and was done by Caryn Crimmel. The sample on the left is on brass.
8. Although a sharpie works as a resist for etching solid metal, it doesn't seem to work with the heat treatment technique on the mesh but does work with the patinas (see Nature Printed mesh, for example).