Tools & Talismans #85 — Jen Hewett

When I first started printing on fabric, I was doing only silkscreen work. Screenprinting produces flat prints – chunks of solid color or fine lines – and I liked the contrast between the flatness of the prints and the natural texture of the linen. Block printing is different; its prints show much more of a hand. They’re wonky and imperfect and interact with the texture of linen in a much different way.

Using a baren (in the upper left hand corner) has changed my printing stamina because it lessens the amount of pressure on my hands when I block print. I mostly print yardage these days and my baren makes me able to print for long periods of time.

I just like the way the Blackwing pencil feels when I hold it. They’re pricier than most pencils, but holding one just makes me happy.

I prefer using inexpensive carving tools to carve my blocks. Like the Blackwing pencil, this carving tool just feels right when I hold it.

I mix my own ink colors, and have found that wide popsicle sticks are perfect for this.

I always wear three bracelets on my left wrist. I used to wear a watch, but when I started using my phone (instead of a watch) to tell time, I replaced the watch with three bracelets. I don’t know why I always have three. I feel naked with fewer than that, and flashy when I wear more. These are inexpensive bracelets made of non-precious metal.

My ring, however, is made of 18 karat gold and purple amethyst. I found it on the beach in 1997 or 98, after a series of El Nino storms. I wore it on the index finger of my right hand for years, then replaced it with a cameo ring I inherited from my grandmother. When I lost the cameo ring last year, my hand didn’t feel right without a ring on it, so I started wearing this gold ring again. It’s a reminder that there is treasure everywhere; you just have to look (and have a bit of good luck).

Jen Hewett is a printmaker, surface designer, textile artist and teacher.


Tools & Talismans is a personal painting project where I document {in watercolor} the tools and talismans of 100 different women — creators and healers, thinkers and makers, wordsmiths and visionaries. Join me — I'll be sharing a new painting with you every Wednesday.

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