DIY: Make your own printing block

You may have seen lots of painted patterned backgrounds in my recent Instagram posts of the collages I’ve been making. I love making surfaces to cut up and work with as well as patterned papers that I’ve bought. Today I’m going to show you one of the ways I make painted patterned surfaces for my collages.

Here’s what you’re going to need…

Printing Block Ingredients

A piece of corrugated cardboard

Neoprene sheet (normal or self adhesive)

Glue Gun (if normal neoprene)

Scissors or Craft Knife

Acrylic Paint

Paint Brush


Cut your neoprene into whatever shape you want to print. It could be a repeat pattern or one shape, a positive image like mine or a negative image, or a single design that isn’t repeated. If you can cut it out of neoprene you can print it.

Printing Block

Glue it onto the corrugated cardboard or stick it you managed to get the self adhesive stuff.


Paint on your acrylic paint, it doesn’t dry too quickly so you’ve got time to paint it all. You could also use a paint roller or a foam roller if you have one.

Stamp it onto whatever surface you have got prepared and push down across the whole back of the printing block so the print is even. I’ve printed on a piece of cartridge paper. I usually print onto a painted surface I’ve already made.

Painted Patterned Paper

TA DA! You’ve made your printing block and printed your own pattern.

While doing this I found some Amy Tangerine Thickers (available here) I bought a few weeks ago. These are made of neoprene as well so I grabbed a cute heart design and stuck it onto some more corrugated cardboard. These are self adhesive too making things super easy.

Amy Tangerine Thickers Stamp

This time I used a Versacolor Chalk ink pad in Watermelon (available here) instead of acrylic paint. I then printed it onto a page I painted with yellow acrylic paint. It worked really well and gives a neater finish than the paint. You may notice there is a little smudge where the ink has gone on the cardboard and transferred to the page. Next time I’ll cut round the shape to avoid that and probably stick it to something so its got a sort of handle.

Amy Tangerine Thickers Stamp Print

I hope you liked this DIY, if you have a go yourself post your results to Instagram and tag #hellopushkin for me.

My tips for fighting your creative block

My experience of the good old creative block is long and frustrating. I think, in a way, I bring it on myself sometimes. My previous post “Who decides if your artwork is good enough or not” definitely explains what can influence my moments of creative stalling. I spend too long thinking about whether what I will create is “worth it” and then end up not making anything at all. Or I feel like I don’t know where to start and I can’t get pen to paper, or glue to paper, or paint to paper! 

When I am on holiday from work I’m often willing myself to be creative. “You’ve got all this spare time, make it worthwhile!” starts going through my head. “Make the most of this time off!”. Which adds on the pressure and basically ends up with me laying on the sofa watching TV and feeling rubbish because I’m wasting my “precious” time.

Well not so this half term! Yes, i’ve spent some time laying on the sofa, but I needed that down time as much as I needed to be creative. How do I crack this vicious circle of putting too much pressure on myself, doing nothing and then feeling guilty and piling on the pressure again?


Well, here are the ways I stop willing myself to be creative and get back to the good stuff…

  1. Just go with chilling out for a day or two. Maybe your mind just needs to rest for a while and your inability to pick up your creative tools may be your brain trying to tell you to rest.
  2. Go on an adventure. It could be a walk round the park, a blast of sea air, watch a film, visit somewhere new. You never know when inspiration might strike.
  3. Revisit old work. You may rekindle an old forgotten idea or finish off a work in progress.
  4. Tidy your workspace. I find materials often inspire me as much as images, you might find you want to experiment with a material or tool you rediscover.
  5. Browse Pinterest, an unending source of visual inspiration.
  6. Read a book, ideas don’t always have to come from imagery.
  7. Buy a magazine, it would be a treat and you might find something you love in it that you weren’t expecting.
  8. Go through the photos on your phone. How often do you look back at the pictures you took or the inspiration you saved?
  9. Make something for someone else. I’ve had my biggest breakthroughs when doing a project for someone like making a leaving card for a colleague.

I hope those suggestions are helpful for those tricky times. Now I need to go and take some of my own advice!

I’d be interested to hear your tips for breaking the creative block.

Who decides if your artwork is good enough or not?

This is a question I wrangle with very often. I work in an environment where part of my job is to decide whether artwork meets specific criteria or not. I am surrounded by art students, and artists who happen to be teachers as well, who are constantly making decisions about whether their own and anyone else’s artwork is “good enough” or not. Good enough to meet the assessment criteria, in the case of our students or good enough for public consumption in the case of their own work.


We don’t grade work based on whether we personally think it is good art or not, though I guess the next question is “good enough for what?” but we’re all asking it, all the time.

I rarely share my work with my colleagues and they rarely share their’s with me, which you would think is mad because what a perfect audience to garner opinion from. Well in fact it’s the opposite, a group of people whose jobs are to critique artwork, whose jobs are to teach students how to improve their drawings, or other artistic practice are not necessarily the eyes you want scrutinising your own personal endeavours. Whether you trust it or not. You’re teaching students how to be better artists, what if your colleagues don’t think you are a good artist?


Art is a very personal subject, you are making yourself vulnerable to criticism when allowing your work to be seen and for people to have an opinion on. The question isn’t being answered based on fact, it’s mainly on opinion and those are the things that can hurt us, or boost us in equal measure.

As an artist/designer/maker I guess my customers decide if my artwork is good enough or not. If they buy it and like it, then the answer is “yes” it is good enough, good enough to be sold and enjoyed. For someone who makes artwork for an audience the true measure is if it sells. It doesn’t always sell so it isn’t always right and that’s ok. I can only talk about my own experience and not someone who works with a client so much.

In the long run, the main audience is you, not all artwork and ideas will see the light of day and you will make the decision about whether it is good enough or not to be made, created, produced or exhibited.

So I guess what i’m trying to tell you, and convince myself of, is that you decide whether it is good enough or not and let that be the only opinion that you trust. And do trust it. In the grand scheme of things, you’re the one who cares about it the most and you always will be.

I’d be really interested to know how you deal with the issue yourself if you’d like to comment, i’ll be sure to reply.


What’s in my pencil case?

When I was telling Chris and Leigh about my idea to do a “What’s in my pencil case?” blog post I was asked the same questions, “how will you choose which pens?” “will you pick your favourites or the ones you use the most?” “which pencil case?”.

I couldn’t understand why I was being asked those things, surely it’s obvious? MY PENCIL CASE! “The pencil case I have in my backpack!” “The pens I have in my pencil case that I carry round with me!”

Then I started to realise why they were questioning me like they were members of the Spanish Inquisition….

I have a bit of a pen problem…

Pen Collection

Obviously I don’t see it as a problem. I like a pen, ok? I like a lot of pens, ok?! I have several “pencil cases” with different pens in them but they are filed, they are organised! Brush pens for lettering in one case. Super fat and fine Poscas in one case. Medium Poscas in one case. Copic markers and fine liners for illustrating in one case. I’m just keeping things in their place.

But my “everyday” pens (haha my “everyday look” #bbloggers) are these sterling “few”….


Pencil case from Tiger Stores


And in detail…

Comic Ciao Pens

Copic Ciao Markers from Cult Pens

Pilot Touch Pens

Pentel Sign Pens. Available from Cult Pens

Stabilo Neon Pens

Stabilo Pen 68 and Point 88 Neons. From, you guessed it… Cult Pens


Sakura Gelly Roll Moonlight Pens. Can be found here at Cult Pens

Single PensScale Ruler bought from The Apron Co at Renegade London, Faber Castell Big Brush pen I got from Scrawlrbox and available from Tiger Pens, Sakura Pigma Brush, Kuretake Cocoiro Letter Pen both available at Cult Pens, Milan Mechanical Pencil (I got mine in my local Paperchase but they aren’t on the website) and Lifework black biro which you can buy here.

I like to have a lot of choice available to me so I can create a range of effects and use my pens for different things. Copic Ciaos are great for areas of pale transparent colour and then Gelly Rolls are great to add bright opaque details. I mainly use these pens to draw patterns and I’ll show you one of my pattern sketchbooks in the next few weeks.

The Faber Castell Big Brush pen is fun for doing brush lettering on a big scale. The Pentel Sign pens are sooo nice because the tip is super bendy. They’re really nice to practice brush lettering with as you can get a good difference between the thick and thin line. I’ll show you some examples of that too.

I also like to use these guys for illustration. Sketching with the Milan mechanical pencil, adding colour with the Copic Ciaos and the Stabilo neon Pen 68s. I seem to be lacking a fine liner here for outlining….. i’d use the Copic Multiliner SP because it doesn’t bleed into the Copic Ciaos.

Finally, I feel like I need to say that this is not a sponsored post!! I know I have mentioned Cult Pens a lot but I honestly buy a LOT of my pens from there. They’re very reasonably priced and their delivery is super quick, ya know, in case you desperately need some pens, in a hurry.

Chris is also going to post a “What’s in my pencil case” blog and you can find it by clicking on his name above.