Printing With Oshiwa Handcarved Blocks

Rachel Biel over at promotes and sells wood printing blocks handcarved by artisans from Namibia. My friend Paula Benjaminson used to hold “block parties” here in Ottawa (before she went off to Gabon in the U.S. diplomatic service) and that is how I came to know and use them. Paula will be back to Canada (London, Ontario) to give a class for the Canadian Embroiders’ Guild this year when their conference theme is “Out of Africa”

Today I am sharing with you some more of the work I have done with these blocks.Previous posts have shown paste papers I made for my artist books, In my “Garden Cloth” series (see http://www.wendyfeldberg,com) of printed and stitched works, I used the blocks to introduce contrasting elements on a surface layered with leaf prints: geometric forms as complements to organic forms.

I used leaves from my garden and indoor plants to make contact prints (not dye prints!) with acrylic paint onto a cotton surface. The geometric designs I chose from among my blocks provided elements of contrast in scale, form and colour that aimed to ground a busy surface built up with layers of colour, form and stitch. Some examples follow. Can you identify the leaves? You can see the whole canvases on my website ( much in need of updating, BTW)







When you buy Oshiwa blocks, you are investing in first your own art, and secondly, a co – op group of African artisans offering a great product and worthy of your support as they develop their business.

Check them out at www. and buy them on etsy at

More of my Oshiwas coming!

If you have links to your own use of Oshiwas, send them to Rachel!




8 thoughts on “Printing With Oshiwa Handcarved Blocks

  1. I love what you are doing with them, Wendy! People ask me about the consistency of the paint or dye and looking at yours, it looks like you water it down, right? So, do you press the block into paint or do you use a brayer to roll paint on to the block?

    Here is the link to Oshiwa’s shop on Etsy:

    1. Hi Rachel,

      Feel free to copy and share anything on my posts or here about Oshiwa blocks.

      To respond to your questions re how to apply acrylic paint:

      I did water it so it would not leave little peaks when the block was lifted. About half and half , I would say.

      I painted the blocks with a brush and pressed them onto the surface, using a padded board underneath. (Jane Dunnewold goves instructions for how to make a padded printing board in her book on art cloth, see my refs on this blog) I made sure not to get paint in the grooves of the blocks.


    1. Thank you, Garnet! i may indeed be able to attend. Please accept my apologies for having mistaken the hosting body for the show. I will publish a correction on my blog and insert your link- thank you for sending it. It sounds as if will be an exciting and memorable show.


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