Linocut printing – the bodgy way.

This isn’t a post about how to print linocut, it’s how I do it.

I’ll post some stuff about cutting linocuts in the next while, therefore it’ll be further up the page, makes sense no?

I design my stuff by hand generally, not cos it’s better or worse, but cos it makes me happy to make stuff with my hands, this following pic is one of the techniques that I haven’t seen anybody else using for some reason, it’s quite viable though, it’s using a dry erase marker and Q-Tips (they call them cotton buds here), on acetate (oht sheets).

I use white board markers a lot personally, i think they’re neat, and they’re easier and cheaper to use and clean up than permanent markers (handy for making notes on windows too).here the frame is drawn in on the other side of the sheet with a vivid (permanent marker) and then I’ve just drawn and re-drawn till I have something I like – white board marker draws black, Q-Tip draws white.

I do sorta plan stuff sometimes, here’s the page from a sketchbook where i was thinking about the images.

It doesn’t look much like the above does it, not that that matters, cos I transferred the design by hand anyhow, so it changed again when I cut it. That was really an aside, but i had the photos handy, I’ll go over design again when i ramble about cutting lino, to come.

Now assuming we have a cut lino block, I’ve been using stuff that’s not mounted on a block, I’ll be switching to type high some time soon for reasons of convenience when registering (got to make the dies and tools first).

Now, inking – again, I’ll actually make a whole post on this topic, so I won’t go into it here, that might sound odd, but the inking is probably the single most important part of getting a good print, which I don’t have here as I was being all slapdash about it.

This is kinda funny cos it’s so bad, I was proofing at the time, the ink isn’t rolled out properly, and the print is weak, but this is enough for me to see what to do as I’m cutting a block – the cutting tool is the red thing to the upper left, I use a draw blade in it, either that or a No15 surgical scalpel, at this point I’m using oil based ink for proofing (I used water based for the final prints), the oil stays liquid longer, thus meaning that I don’t have to clean the block and wait to keep cutting – this is a very messy process for me, but then, I was raised by wolves, so what can you expect.

The roller is a cheap hard one, which is ideal for this medium, the ink only stays on the raised parts, a soft roller it goes over the edges. At this point I’m actually printing into a sketchbook bar a few tests (as above). You can see something of the iteration of a design here;

oily ink smudges, worn out black nail polish, and terrible handwriting, raised by wolves, remember? This design didn’t really work so well, and I’m stll only semi-happy with it. So anyhow – getting a print onto paper – what this post is supposedly about, cos it’s not about anything to date;

The board thingee that I’ve taped my bit of paper for layout to is actually a bookbinding tool, it’s just a really convenient size and shape for this task. It’s a bookbinding press for binding perfect (glue) bound books – the bottom bar lines stuff up, and the side bar clamps the book to be bound in place, anyhow I digress.

On the paper I’ve drawn the outline of the sheet of paper and then taped a piece of lino in so that it’s edge lines up with the fold in the paper (convenient measurement, no?) –  The lino provides the height to line stuff up accurately, when it’s lined up I press the paper down onto the inked lino block you can see there, and pop a wooden block lined with felt on top;

Like so – the bottom side is lined with the felt – then;

I stomp on it, bounce up and down, move my foot about, and generally carry on like a muppet till I’m quite assured that it’s the ink has stuck nicely to the paper – if proofing this tends to be enough, otherwise I use a burnisher.

Ok, so it’s a plastic imitation bone paper folding tool, but it’s the intent than counts, plus this is actually easier to use than any other burnisher I can afford (I found it in the street).

After that I remove the paper from the block and i have a print – sadly all I have to show for my troubles here is one of the test prints;

this is one place that being somewhat dyslexic is actually a boon, I can read and write at backwards (mirrored) a considerable fraction of the speed that I can write and read normally, thus writing stuff mirrored is no big deal to me.

Rolling out the ink, inking the block, pressing it to the paper (burnishing), and the removal of the paper from the block are the central skills here, burnishing probably being the easiest and least important (it’s terribly important, but if you don’t get how to remove the paper you’ll never get a good print – there are machines for pressing, not for rolling out ink or removing the finished print).

Slightly better print, but still pretty crap really – I decided on my last project to let the quality go and let the faults in iteration be part of the work, doesn’t look so good when i’m trying to explain why, oh well.

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