Lino Printing for Chumps…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s unusual pencil sharpener is the one shaped like the sound of a balloon bursting.
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wp-f-dscn3134Here is another one of my lino prints.
It’s an early one, done in 2011. I think I have got a bit better at doing them since then, it does look a little bit raggy and blobby doesn’t it? Still, I don’t mind showing it to you – it is rather, shall we say, striking?
Lino cutting and printing is not really that complicated a thing, but it does have several steps in the process: doing a drawing of your idea; transferring it to the block somehow; cutting the lines and voids in the block without ruining the bloody thing, and without sticking a sharp pointy blade into your finger, Damn, damn, done it again!; rolling out the right kind of ink and getting it spread evenly onto the lino; placing your paper onto the block and rubbing it with something; peeling the paper off, looking at it, and swearing profusely in several languages, screwing it up into a small ball and throwing it across the room in the general direction of the waste bin…
There, dear reader, have I completely put you off trying this printing technique yourself? No, no, really it’s not as bad as I make out – once you discover what not to do, it all becomes enjoyable and quite addictive. Here are one or two of the things I learned which made it easier and also produce much better prints. (By the way, I am not a trained print-maker, all these are just some of the things which helped me get to grips with it. Oh, and there are plenty of videos for you to look at on YouTube showing how to do lino printing.)
Transferring the image to the block:
Having remembered to do your drawing back-to-front, it’s very easy to use old-fashioned carbon paper and a ballpoint pen to get it marked onto the lino.
Cutting the lino:
Those little lino cutting tool kits you can buy are often awful; the metal is a bit thin and bendy and sometimes they are actually blunt, and wouldn’t cut ‘ot butter, as we say in these parts. I generally use a Swann Morton scalpel for cutting all the lines, and I remove the quantity of lino from the voids with one of the scoopy things or the little ‘chisel’ (sharpened) from one of the cheap kits mentioned above.
Ink:
I tried several water-based printing inks and I hated them all; they seemed remarkably un-sticky and the roller often refused to even turn when rolling out the ink – it just skated over the sloppy ink instead. The revelation was getting some Speedball oil-based ink – it seems expensive, but I do get about 60 prints from one tube – and it’s so much easier to use. A friend of mine uses water-based ink and says it works fine for him though, maybe it’s just me?…
Paper:
Back then I didn’t know what paper to use for printing onto, so I bought a pad of good quality drawing paper – hm, it was a struggle (the print above is done on drawing paper). I tried various other papers, thick and thin; I had heard that very thin Japanese paper was good, but I was put off because it looked too much like ’tissue’ paper and though that it would be really flimsy to work with. But no, it is great, it just sucks the ink up, and you can actually see the image through it as you rub the paper on the inked block. There are several kinds, but can can order a set of samples from Lawrence Art Box. When the print is finished, and you want to display it, you simply put a piece of white paper behind it in the mount or frame to show the full black and white contrast of the image.

I just realised that I have been rambling on and not said anything about the above print. I’ll be very brief:
What do you think of the white things in the ‘sky’ above the ‘horizon’ – my idea was that they should combine in the eye to look like a three-dimensional thick jagged wall lit from the left – I’m not sure if that works – it might just look like a set of floating flat white shapes… You can never know what people will make of the things you come up with…

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
This entry was posted in art, composition, drawing, information, instruction, learning, lino cut printing, lino printing, linocut tools, surrealism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Lino Printing for Chumps…

  1. Jheron Bash says:

    Well, I do like this. In fact, I like all your prints. They’re very different to mine. That’s as it should be. Also, I use water based ink, which works for me. One simple advantage is it’s so much easier to clean up! Generally I get good, sharp results with nice dense black & sharp lines. Like you, I’m self taught and stick to monochrome (so far).
    For those who may be interested, I’ve settled on using Akua Intaglio ink, again made by Speedball. It comes in a jar and I get far more than 60 prints from one. The “sticky” problem is overcome by a) not putting too much ink on the plate, and b) adding just 2 or 3 drops of Cobalt Drier (also available from Lawrence’s) with a pipette.
    While we’re on the subject, I’ve viewed quite a few linocut videos on YouTube. Many of them are American & I’ve noticed they tend to pronounce it “leeno”. Do any of your transatlantic readers know if this is standard? Not that it matters. You say tomato & I say tomato! Print on …. just don’t bother with the cheap Chinese tools ……

  2. I’ve done some linoleum block printing and I love the boldness possible in the images produced. LOVE all of yours that you’ve showed. They are strong.

  3. twallisstone says:

    This is fantastic! In regards to “leeno”, I have always heard it pronounced close to “lynn-o” by Americans – at least in Seattle…

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