From holiday cards to beautiful textiles, block printing allows you to create textured designs using a few simple tools. Join Spoonflower artist and maker Alyson Toone Aguilar as she teaches us how to make block prints using linoleum blocks and found items—like toys and sponges. Get ready to block out some time for creativity! 

The block print covered in green rests above the print of the design on a white sheet of paper.

Alyson: Block printing is a great way to create textile prints. I used block printing to design a few of the most popular prints in my Spoonflower shop. Personally, I love block printing or stamping with ink pads. I reuse my stamps to create completely new designs. Plus, when using ink pads, the clean up is much easier than with block printing ink.

Shop Best-Selling Block Print Designs by alysonjonlife

How To Make A Block Print Design With Linoleum Blocks or Sheets

Here is a basic tutorial on block printing. See the bonus information further down the post about printing with objects that you can find around your house.  

Seven wooden linoleum cutters lay beside a linoleum rectangle on a brown surface.
Your linoleum block and cutters will be the stars of this tutorial, but we also need the other supplies mentioned below.


What you will need to make a block print:

  • Linoleum blocks or linoleum sheets (any size is fine but small is preferable)
  • Wooden blocks (including toy blocks or wooden scraps) or pre-made stamp mounts—to attach your linoleum sheet or found item for stamping
  • Hot glue or wood glue—to glue your linoleum sheet or found item to your stamp mount
  • Linoleum cutter(s) or wood cutter(s)
  • Scissors—to cut your linoleum sheets  
  • Dye ink pad(s)—for stamping
  • Pencil—to draw your design
  • Paper—to draw and stamp your design
  • Found items (for the second half of this tutorial)—such as old wooden or foam toy blocks, screws, bolts, nuts, marker/pen lids, small plastic toys, etc. Get creative and we will experiment together in the workshop.  
  • Large spoon—to press down your block (optional)
  • Ruler (optional)
  • Unscented baby wipes—for clean up (optional, but very helpful)

Step 1: Draw Your Design

A piece of paper lays beside three ink pads on a brown surface.
First, draw your design on a piece of paper. We’ll use the ink pads later in this tutorial.

Sketch your design on paper. Consider the areas you would like to be colored with ink, or left as negative space (where there is no color).

Step 2: Recreate Your Design On Your Linoleum Block

A grey rectangle of linoleum rests on a brown surface. A circle with lines going in different directions is drawn on the linoleum.
Here’s my design on my block. Based on the design, I know I will be cutting any space outside of the circle.

Draw your design onto your block. Mark areas that will be removed in your design so that you can know where to cut.

Step 3: Carve Out Your Design

Alyson carving out linoleum using her cutter, on a brown surface.
Be sure to direct your cutter away from your body while cutting your linoleum.

Cut into your linoleum using your linoleum or wooden cutter. Hold the block steady with your less dominant hand and carve with your most dominant hand. Be careful and safe with your cutter. Direct it away from your body and other hand while carving.

Alyson using a bigger cutter to carve out the negative space of her design. A brown surface is in the background.
I’m using my large cutter to cut the large portion of negative space outside of my design.

Use The Correct Cutter

Use small cutter points for removing finer areas of negative space, such as lines. Use the larger cutter points to remove larger areas of negative space. Wipe off any excess linoleum dust after you finish cutting. Small bits of linoleum can actually show up in your print. 

Optional Step 4: Cut Out Your Design From Your Linoleum Sheet

This step is for you if you are working on the thin grey linoleum sheet. If not, move on to the next step. Using craft scissors, cut your design from the sheet. Get as close to your design as possible. You can use the trimmed design as your stamping block for printing now. You can also mount your block to a pre-made stamp mount found at craft stores or a wooden toy block. Just glue it with hot glue or wood glue to the mount.  

Step 5: Apply Ink to Your Block Design 

Alyson holding her linoleum block print over a ink pad with green ink. The block is dry.
Get your block print loaded with ink. You can hold the block and press it into the ink pad.
Alyson is placing the ink over the block print. The block has traces of green from being dipped in the ink before. A brown surface is in the background.
You can also hold the ink pad and press it into the block. It may take a couple of presses to get the block covered in enough ink.

Load your block with ink by applying the ink pad to the stamping block. Make sure all parts of the design look evenly covered with ink. This may take several dabs with the ink pad.  

Keep Your Craft Clean

Make sure you have baby wipes (or your preferred surface cleaner) nearby incase any ink gets on your workstation. You can also use the baby wipes to clean your blocks before printing with a different colored ink.

Step 6: Test Out Your Block   

The block print covered in green rests above the print of the design on a white sheet of paper.

Test your block by printing on a scrap piece of paper. Press your stamping block firmly onto the paper. Press firmly all over the back of the block to ensure that enough ink transfers to the paper.

If you have a block made of thin grey Hessian-backed linoleum, use a large spoon to help press down the block.

Slowly pull the block up from the paper and set the block aside. Look for any issues with the design. There may be parts of the negative space areas that need to be carved down a little more. Carve those parts using your linoleum cutters.  

Step 7: Create Prints With Your Block

Now your block is ready for printing. Make sure to clean your block with baby wipes between each new color application.  

How To Make a Block Print Design With Found Items

Beads, a jewel, wine cork, and sponges rest on a brown surface.
Items around your house can create great block print designs.

Found objects are exactly what they sound like—items that you find. You can locate and collect these items in various places, like your home, office or even a thrift store.  

One of the biggest misconceptions in art and craft is that you need to purchase lots of pre-made supplies to be creative. Hopefully, this section will open your eyes to the supplies that you already have around you. Scroll down to find tips and ideas on finding objects that you can use for this technique.  

Step 1: Locate Your Found Items To Print With

Random objects like foam, beads, sponges, wine cork, a toothbrush, and hardware lay on a brown surface.
Organize your found items on your workstation.

You can block print with several things around your home or office. Here’s a list of things to consider:

Shipping Materials

  • Cardboard—to cut and make into stamp mounds/blocks
  • The foam pieces that keep merchandise in place—can be used as is or cut into pieces
  • Bubble wrap

Household Materials 

  • Kitchen sponges (new or used—it’s up to you)  
  • Bottle lids
  • Wine corks
  • Netting from potatoes or onions
  • The side of a woven basket

Sewing Supplies  

  • The side of a rolled-up measuring tape 
  • Empty thread spools
  • Clothes pins 
  • Beads 
  • Ribbon 
  • Textured fabric like coarse burlap or open-weave cotton

Office Supplies  

  • The plastic ring from Scotch tape  
  • Unsharpened pencils  


  • Foam blocks or bath toys 
  • Cheap plastic miniatures  
  • Wooden blocks
  • Wooden figures

Craft Supplies

  • Pom poms (both acrylic and wool work well) 
  • Paint lids
  • Yarn or wire wrapped around a stamp block
  • Wooden dowels 

Step 2: Test Your Found Block Print Items on Test Paper

Found items lay on a white paper, near their prints in blue ink.
Cover your found items in ink from your ink pad. Test out their print on scrap paper.

Grab your ink pad and press your found items into the ink. Press your found item onto a piece of scrap paper to see how it prints. Some items will print better than others. Pictured above are some of the items I tested.

Step 3: Create A Design Pattern

Found items are on a white paper in front of their prints organized as as diagonal design.
Determine which ones you’d like to use in a combination to create your final print.

Now that we know which items print well, you can choose which ones you’d like to use in a combination to make a patterned design. Using a fresh piece of paper or fabric, and start printing.

Things To Remember

Found items like a sponge, tape cylinder, green block, and wine cork are on a brown surface.
Use unwanted items because the ink will likely stain them.
Blue beads are glued to a stamp mount are on a brown surface.
Be experimental! I tried these buttons but found out they weren’t porous enough for printing.
A teal and orange block print design is beside the linoleum block, on a white sheet of paper.
Have fun! Explore a number of combinations with your designs.
  • This process will include experimentation. Not all materials are porous or absorb enough ink for the printing process. On the flip side, some materials are far too porous which can cause blobby prints.
  • Test on scrap paper before first. Take your time to try out your found object on a piece of scrap paper before you try to create the real thing. Some of the items pictured here did not work well for me. The flat plastic beads in this photo were not porous enough to make a complete print. 
  • Use unwanted items. Make sure you are using items that you are not attached to. The ink will most likely stain your items.  
  • Foam is your friend. Anything foam is pretty much perfect for this printing technique. 
  • Have fun! Play the scientist and experiment. You may exceed your expectations. Please share your creations with me on Instagram. I always love to see what students create. Happy printing!  

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I create a block print using a linoleum block or sheet?
Start by drawing your design with a pencil on a piece of paper. Once you’re satisfied with your draft, redraw the design on your linoleum block or sheet. Next, carve out your design using your linoleum or wooden cutter. If you’re using a linoleum sheet, grab a pair of scissors and cut out the section of your sheet that has your design. Then, apply ink to your design. Press a test print on scrap paper. If you’re satisfied, press your block to create your design pattern on paper or fabric.
What can I make with my block-printed design?
You can create several things with your design such as wall art, wallpaper, a tote bag and home decor. Just upload your design to Spoonflower, and order the fabric or wallpaper you need to complete these tutorials.
What surfaces can I press my block prints on?
Block printing is best practiced on fabric—like cotton or linen—or on paper.  
How can I seamlessly repeat my design?
Scan or take an overhead photo of your design and upload it to your computer. You can upload it to Spoonflower and explore layout options. If you have Adobe® Illustrator® or Photoshop® software, you can also edit your design there.

Need Project Inspo?

Now that you’ve made your unique design, let’s put it to work! Check out some of these DIY projects and create something awesome. Remember to upload your design to Spoonflower first to purchase your design in your intended fabric or wallpaper.
See the Projects