A fine print
TRY YOUR HAND AT A LITTLE HOME LINOCUTTING.
paper / soft lead pencil / ezy cut printing block or artist’s linoleum block / linoleum cutters / piece of glass or plastic inking plate / a brayer (a roller made for printmaking) / printmaking ink (we used black and yellow ochre) / printmaking paper / baren or wooden spoon
Start by drawing your design onto a piece of paper with a soft lead pencil. Your drawing should be the same size you want your final print to be. (We used an 18x18cm circle.)
Once your drawing is complete, lay it pencil-side down onto your lino or ezy cut block. Then, carefully rub your fingers across the back of the paper to transfer the drawing to the block. (A soft lead pencil and dark lines help the drawing to transfer better.) You could also skip this step entirely and carefully draw right onto the block – just be sure not to dent it with your pencil tip, as it will show up in your final print!
Once your drawing is transferred, it’s time to begin carving. The basic principle of block-printing is that anything you carve away will be white (or the colour of your paper) and anything left will be the colour of your ink. If you’re making your own design, remember the final product will be flipped and mirrored, which is particularly important if you’re printing words!
Start with a 20x20cm square block and cut out the main 18x18cm circle, keeping the extra lino for the next step. Then, carve out all the lines, as well as four circles where the coloured flowers will go. Feel free to experiment with different tips on your lino cutter. Some have small tips for tiny details, and others have wider tips for carving out bigger areas.
After the main design is carved, grab four smaller pieces of lino (the bits left over from the beginning should do). These will become the coloured flowers. Choose a simple flower shape and carve four of them, the same sizes as the small circles in your main block.
Next, place a few blobs of black ink onto a smooth piece of glass or plastic (the front of an old picture frame works well). Using your brayer, roll the ink out until it’s evenly spread on the glass. Then, with your inked brayer, roll the black onto your carved block. Make sure to cover every part of the block evenly. You don’t need a lot of ink – in fact, less is more!
Take a piece of printmaking paper and carefully lay it over the top of your inked block. Using the back of a wooden spoon, a baren or your fist, apply even pressure to the back of the paper. Then, carefully lift up the paper to see your print!
Wait till the black ink is dry to do the flowers. Get your accent colour ready using the same process as with the black – dab it on the glass, then spread it out with the brayer. (You can use the same brayer as before, just make sure to properly wash and dry it first.) There’s just one difference while printing the flowers: instead of placing the paper onto the block, you should press the block onto the paper like a stamp. This allows you to place the flowers perfectly.
Once carved, your lino blocks can be used to make as many prints as you want. You could even gift them to family and friends so they can get their own craft on!