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Introduction to Lino Printing


Carved butterfly lino print with Pfiel print makers carving tools
















Lino printing is a versatile and accessible form of printmaking that has been used by artists for over a century. This method involves carving a design into a piece of linoleum and then transferring the image onto paper or fabric using ink. With its bold lines, textures, and graphic quality, lino printing is a great way to create striking prints that can be reproduced in large quantities.


Tools:

The essential tools for lino printing are linoleum, carving tools, ink, a brayer (roller), a baren (for rubbing paper to transfer ink) and paper.

Linoleum can be purchased in various sizes as sheets or mounted onto wooden blocks. Traditional linoleum is made from a mixture of cork and linseed oil and is soft and flexible, making it ideal for small, intricate designs. There are alternatives to this however such as softcut, speedy carve and Japanese vinyl. I personally use traditional Lino sheets and occasionally Japanese vinyl.


Carving tools come in different shapes and sizes and are used to carve the design into the linoleum. The most common types of carving tools include U-shaped gouges, V-shaped gouges, and knives. U-shaped gouges are used for cutting out large areas, while V-shaped gouges are used for creating fine lines and details. Knives are used for cutting away excess linoleum around the design. I have a set of Pfiel tools which, although expensive, are definitely with the money! There are however cheaper alternatives and I would recommend starting with a less expensive set for beginners. If you fall in love with lino printing like I have you can always invest in a professional set at a later date. I should also mention that I have a slipstrop to keep my tools sharp.


Ink is applied to the linoleum block using a brayer, a roller with a handle. The ink is spread evenly across the surface of the block in thin layers, ensuring that the design is covered with an even layer of ink. There are many different brands and types of ink to choose from called relief or block printing inks. These are either water or solvent (oil) based. My personal favorites are Cranfields traditional or safe wash oil based inks and Schmincke water based inks.


Types of Paper:

When it comes to choosing paper for lino printing, there are several options to consider. The type of paper used will affect the final look and feel of the print. Here are a few types of paper that I have used in lino printing:

Japanese Paper - Awagami and Hosho - This thin, delicate paper is perfect for creating fine, detailed prints. It is also great for creating monoprints, which are prints made from a single linoleum block that is inked and printed multiple times.

Specialist printmakers paper such as Somerset, Kent and Fabriano to name a few. These come in a range of paper weights (gsm), textures and colour tones.

I’ve also experimented with banana paper, made from the pulp of banana skins and Khadi handmade paper.

It’s always a good idea to test your print with a cheaper paper before committing to your specialist paper. I use either copier paper or newsprint.


Techniques:

There are several techniques used in lino printing other than a single block print that can be used to create different effects. Here are a few techniques to consider:

  1. Reduction Printing - This technique involves carving away parts of the linoleum block between each layer of printing, resulting in a multi-colored print. This technique requires careful planning and precision carving.

  2. Chine-collé - This technique involves adding thin layers of colored paper to the print before printing it. The layers are added between the inked linoleum block and the printing paper, resulting in a print with added depth and texture.

  3. Multiple Blocks - This technique involves using multiple linoleum blocks, each with a different color, to create a multicolored print. The blocks are inked and printed separately, one on top of the other, to create the final print.

In conclusion, lino printing is a versatile and accessible form of printmaking that can be used to create striking prints and is an excellent way to create artwork that can be reproduced in large quantities. By using the right tools, types of paper, and techniques, artists can create unique and beautiful prints that showcase their creativity and skill.


I hope this article inspires you to give Lino printing a go!


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