Sunday, March 24, 2013

How to Make a Linocut

This post will give you instructions on how to make a linocut - I'll show you step by step how I produced my 'Rabbits at Home' linocut.   Happy linocutting!

Rabbit Linocut

1.     Sketch out your design.  Take into account practical matters, such as the dimensions of your paper – the rabbits, for example, are standard postcard size.  Be mindful of contrasting black and white areas, and textured versus plain areas.  Try to achieve a good balance between these.
2. Tracing. Trace your design using a dark pencil.

3. Transfer your design. Turn the tracing paper over and place it onto your lino. Tape your lino into place with masking tape to ensure nothing shifts while you’re transferring it. If it shifts, you will never be able to match it up again.

4. Highlight your Design. Go over your pencil lines with a waterproof marker such as a ‘Sharpie’ marker.

5. How to Cut. The important thing to remember is that that the areas your remove from the lino will not print. What you leave behind will be printed up. This means that you have to think in reverse. Be very careful not to over-cut and remove too much lino. This makes it flat and uninteresting. Also, avoid cutting through any important inter-connecting lines. On the finished print, you’ll see that I accidentally cut off one of the sleeping rabbit’s ears where it joins onto the head!

6.  Cut out your Design.  Cut out the main subject first.  Carefully go round the outside and inside lines of the design first.  Then cut out the inner part, creating texture and contrast as you go.  Use small tools on detailed areas, larger tools to clear large parts.

7.  Check your Progress.  One useful way of checking your progress is to use a bingo marker.  Colour the area you have just been cutting, lay a scrap sheet of paper on top, and take rubbing with an old spoon or your fist.

8.  Prepare your Inks.  With your design cut out, you’re now ready to print!  Prepare your inks.  Make sure you have enough of the colour you are using for the size of your print run.  Roll out a thin film of ink.

9.  Ink up your lino.  Roll the roller through the film of ink one way until it is loaded with ink.  Roll it onto the lino one way.  Make sure the lino has a thin sticky film of ink all over it.

10. Print your Linocut.  If using a press:  slot your lino into place on a registration board.  Carefully lay your paper over the lino.  Place packing materials (such as newspaper and card) on top and roll the press over.  You may need to experiment until you get the pressure correct.  If hand-printing:  slot your lino into place on a registration board and carefully lay your paper over the lino.  Burnish it by rubbing the back of the paper with a spoon.

11. The Great Reveal.  It’s time for the great reveal!  Slowly lift the paper up from one corner.  If the ink is patchy, carefully replace the paper and have another go with the press/spoon.

12. Blot Print.  Using tissue or scrap paper, blot the print to remove any excess ink.  Hang it up to dry.  Edition your prints.  If you print 10, number each one as being a series of 10 – e.g. 1/10, 2/10…10/10.

13. THE FINISHED PRINT!  Ta da .....

Finished 'Rabbits at Home' linocut