TAMPA, Fla. - Meli Mossey is a lifelong artist. The owner of Melimade has drawn, painted, sculpted and embroidered, but for the past couple of years, she's specialized in block printing.
"This is kind of the perfect mix-up, because I'm able to do a craft, a handcraft, where I do the physical work of making the art, but it becomes a reproducible fine art thing when it's finished," Mossey said.
She describes block printing as carving your own stamp, which takes around four hours to create an 8x10 block.
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"I usually will sit and do the entire thing from start to finish in one sitting," Mossey said. "I get really inspired by an idea, and I will sit, I will draw it out, and I will just start carving."
Mossey's blocks are a combination of graphics and words, a mix of famous quotes and quirky thoughts. She estimates that she has around 50 8x10 blocks and a large assortment of smaller ones. Creating these blocks offers one big challenge.
"The entire thing is printed opposite of what you carved, so you have to carve the entire thing in reverse. Not only are you removing the parts you don't want to show, the areas that you are carving are not the drawing, but you also have to print all of your words in reverse," Mossey said. "So, you actually don't know what it's going to look like until you print it for the first time."
Mossey said the anticipation of that first print is the most exciting part for her.
"It's just pure excitement and adrenaline, and it's super fun to see how it turns out," she said.
Mossey prints by applying ink to the block, and then pressing the block onto paper with a hand press. Even though the handmade process is always the same, she said each print is one of a kind.
She can print onto most items that are flat, like paper, fabric and some jewelry. For other items like coffee mugs, her best-selling item, she scans the block print into a computer to create those prints.