There are three key requirements for lino printing – you require a lino block, the tools to carve your image, and the printing techniques to produce your print. Remember, the area you are carving will become the negative of your image, anything left will be printed.
TYPE OF LINO BLOCKS
What is a lino made from?
Linoleum is made from natural materials - linseed oil, cork and resin, this is then dried, making the lino become hard and ready for printing.
Choosing your block
Linoleum blocks, or lino blocks, are mainly used for printmaking and are cut into a shape or design, this then acts like a stamp when you print it onto paper. There are many different types of lino blocks such as traditional lino, soft cut lino, easy carve lino or Japanese vinyl. At Constable Studio, we like to use a soft lino block to make our unique pieces, we believe this material gives the best quality print for our designs and it’s easier to obtain certain artistic effects. When using an easy soft block, you can achieve very fine lines with ease. Alternatively, some people enjoy working with wood, a material which would create very distinct lines and textures. When using wood, you would have to use extremely sharp tools to be able to engrave with a good outcome.
TYPES OF CUTTING TOOLS
Types of tools
There are a variety of cutting tools you can use when producing a lino carving. The implements vary depending on the width or depth you are wanting to achieve. There is the V chisel or gouge, which could be used to achieve those finer lines in your image, the deeper the cut, the more distinctive the line. Another tool that has similar values is a U gouge, which unlike the V gouge, makes the lines wider. The tools have a range of shapes to suit the comfort of the user, some tools come with different sets of handles for you to test and see which one they like the most.
For beginners, I would recommend the Speedball Cutter, this appliance tends to come with one lino handle and five varying shaped V gouge cutters. For Constable Studio, we like to use a V shaped chisel or gauge as our drawings tend to include of lot of detail.
Be careful of those fingers, we recommend using a bench hook or foam board to lean on whilst carving, your fingers will thank you later!
Once you have carved your lino block and you’re happy with your image, well… you’re ready to print. There are many printing techniques to discover with lino printing, it’s just a matter of experimenting with your print and a lot of trial and error.
The printing process can be an exciting stage - you can never quite know how your carving will turn out, sometimes the carvings look better than the actual print, and sometimes they don't. I love the tiny imperfections, the inky fingers, and the dancing around on a printing press to get the perfect print. You can check out our final results here.
What is Reduction printing?
One popular technique is the Reduction method – this is when you use the same printing block to print multiple colours. The process starts with carving a design and printing the colour on each sheet of paper. You can then cut some of the same block away and add the second colour. This process of carving and printing will continue until the final colour has been added.