Printmaking.  Relief printing.

Printmaking is one of my favorite things, but I know that the different kinds of print can be confusing to the beginner. 

Here, I'm going to talk about what is probably the most familiar kind of print - the Lino Print. 

Lino printing, like wood cuts are examples of what is termed 'Relief Printing'. Basically, the block of lino or wood is cut into, and the print is taken from the remaining raised areas, which receive and transfer the ink.

Read on...

Lino Cutting Tools

These are some of my cutters. There are V shaped cutters for lines, and round gougers for cutting larger areas, which all come in different sizes. 

Cutting the Block

The first cut removes all parts of the design that you want to remain white. The cut away areas will not pick up any ink.

The First Print

The The lino is laid on the paper and put through the press, or  burnished on the back with a wooden spoon. The printed image will, of course, be reversed.

My Press

This is an old book binders press, which works very well. You can put a lot of pressure on the print by turning the screw, without too much effort.

The second print

So - the red ink has been printed over the yellow, leaving the yellow in the places I cut  the lino away. 

Third Cut

This will be my final cutting, and third colour. I have chosen black to pull the design together.

The ink is rolled out to a very thin even layer, before inking up the lino.

Final Print

Three colour print: Yellow, Red and Black.

This method is called a "Reduction Print", as you just use the one piece of lino, which is reduced each time you cut. 

Obviously, you can only make the one series of prints, as the original colour blocks have been destroyed.

The Lino

Nice thick lino can be bought from art shops, but here I am using an off-cut from flooring lino. It has a slightly greasy surface, so needs to be gently sanded first, then I draw the image on with acrylic ink, which will not come off or affect the print.

Inking the block

The ink is rolled out and applied in a very thin film with a roller. You can now see how the roller has missed the cut away areas, so they won't print.

And an alternative colour

I have used a different colour here, just to see how it comes out. 

The second Cut

I now cut away more of the lino. Every part I cut away will not pick up any ink, so when I print it only the lino surface left uncut will get inked, and the cut areas will allow the original colour to remain on the paper.

Notice how I am holding the lino so that I cut away from my hands at all times. This is VERY important, as the cutters are very sharp, and can slip easily!

Alternative Colour

The same red ink printed over the blue. It's surprising how different they look.          Hmm...I think I like this one better!

Third Cut

I have cut away almost all the lino surface, leaving just a few lines to print the black. I have completely removed the fish body shape with a stanley knife, as large areas of cut lino can still pick up a little ink, and this would make the print messy.

Final Print

Three colour print: Blue, Red and Black.

An alternative way of printing would be to cut each colour block on a separate piece of lino, then you could print as many as you like. The drawback is that each cut and the registration has to be very accurate.

It is said that Picasso favoured reduction printing, because he  found it difficult to register multiple blocks.

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