Seahorse Lino cuts

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Yester­day I spent the after­noon doing some lino prints. The prints are avail­able from here for £2.80 each. They’re A5 sized and prin­ted on thick 300gsm Canson water­col­our paper.

Here’s a brief tutori­al on the basics of lino print­ing:

Here’s the equip­ment you need. I have listed the usual prices per item at time of writ­ing, but you can also get a beginner’s kit with them in for about £25-30 from a couple of differ­ent brands:

  • The lino plate itself- These grey ones are very cheap and not that great. You can get thick­er ones, ones made of softer rubber, or glued onto a wooden back­ing for a little more money. If you use the cheap ones, it’s a good idea to rest them on a radi­at­or for a while (or even sit on them) to soften them up. Anywhere from £1-5 depend­ing on size and qual­ity.
  • Lino cutting tool and selec­tion of blades- It’s a little handle with differ­ent sized blades that slot in. Around £5
  • Block print­ing ink- A water-based paint designed specially for print­mak­ing About £4 per colour
  • Clean roller and ink roller (aka bray­ers)- These are both simple rubber rollers. It’s import­ant to keep these separ­ate. One is used for inking up the lino plate, and the other for rolling over the paper or plate to make the print. About £6-7 each.
  • Inking surface- I have a piece of perspex for this. The white tray in the photo is also sold for this purpose. A smooth plastic or glass surface to roll out a thin layer of ink on.
  • Plastic paint tray- Art shops sell these for rolling out and mixing paints and print­ing inks, but I find it very useful for cutting the plate in. If you posi­tion the lino plate in the corner, the raised edges protect your hands, and the smooth base of the tray makes it easy to spin the plate around as you cut. Around £2.
  • Paper- normal print­er paper for test prints, and nicer paper for the real prints. I used Canson 300gsm water­col­our paper- using the smooth side rather than the textured one.
  • A flat cleanable surface like a kitchen counter to work from.
  • Enough flat space to leave your prints to dry.

Draw your image onto the plate, and then leave it on a radi­at­or to soften up. Then very care­fully use the lino tool to carve out the lines. Be very care­ful with the blade and cut slowly and away from your body/​hands to avoid injury.

As I already said, I find cutting inside the paint tray very help­ful to avoid cutting myself. It also keeps the offcuts of lino contained for easi­er dispos­al.

As my seahorse image doesn’t have a back­ground, I trimmed the edges of the plate with scis­sors, and used the largest blade size to carve off any excess.

Put a dab of ink from the tube onto the inking surface. Using the ink roller, roll out a thin consist­ent layer of ink onto your inking surface. This creates a fine, thin layer of ink on the roller. Once the roller is coated, roll the ink onto the lino. I have used tinfoil under­neath here to protect my kitchen. I find it slides about less than plastic, but is still easy to wipe excess ink from.

Then it’s time to make a test print using cheap paper. You can either lay the paper on top of the lino, or put the lino face down onto the paper, whichever works better.  For this image I found it worked better to have the paper under­neath. Then use either your clean roller or the back of a spoon to put pres­sure evenly over the plate, and care­fully remove the paper. It will prob­ably take a little exper­i­ment­a­tion to find an amount of ink and a press­ing tech­nique you are happy with. The cheap lino I used here had a tend­ency to curl when inked, so I found the roller worked better for me this time. Of course the ideal is to have access to a print­ing press, which keeps everything flat and gives an even amount of pres­sure.

Once you are happy with your prints, you can then start using your fancy paper. Leave the prints flat and separ­ate to dry for at least an hour.

Once they are dry, you can sign and number them.


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