Linocuts are a form of relief printing that first started appearing in the early 1900's, following the development of linoleum flooring material. Similar in principal to woodblook printing, linocuts became a popular medium for book and poster illustration as well as being adopted by artists such as Picasso.
I create both monochromatic linocuts, made from one lino block, and prints that incorporate as many as 5 or 6 colours. Traditionally each colour is printed from its own block and this is the method I use.
The linocut printing process
- I start by sketching ideas for my print. Once I am happy with the design and colours, I reverse the drawing and transfer it to my lino.
- Using special lino cutting tools I gouge out the areas where I don't want any colour. The tools range from wide flat blades which clear large spaces, to very fine gouges for the detailed work.
- If I am using more than one colour I need to cut one block for each colour, making sure they all line up.
- I use oil based inks to print the image. The ink is mixed to create the correct colour and rolled out very thinly and evenly on a glass sheet using a roller.
- When I hear the right sticky sound coming from the roller, I know it is time to transfer the ink to the lino block. I carefully coat the block so that only the areas of remaining lino are covered with a thin layer of colour.
- I put a sheet of paper over the lino, carefully lining it up with registration points, and either burnish the back of the paper with a well worn wooden spoon or put it through my antique cast iron press. The image has now been transfered to the paper.
- If the print uses more than one colour, the process is repeated for each block. The excitement comes as you peel back the paper on the final layer and you see your finished picture for the first time.