original linocut prints

What is a linocut print?

Basically a piece of lino is carved into and then inked up with a roller. The ink goes onto the bits that haven’t been carved, so when you press a piece of paper to the lino the ink is transferred to the paper.

It gets way more exciting than that though…

The lino is cut using lino/wood carving tools that come in a variety of sizes and profiles for making different types of marks.
Inking Lino
Ink is applied using a roller (usually but not always). The ink will only be left on the areas that haven't been carved away.
Printing a lino cut.
The final stage is printing. The inked block is applied to the surface you are printing on to and then pressure is applied to transfer the image.

There are several different types of lino from the traditional grey lino with a hessian back to soft cut versions which are like thick rubber sheets. Some are better than others for certain things, you can use traditional lino for caustic etching where a caustic solution eats away at the surface. The soft cut versions are better for jigsaw printing where you cut the lino into a jigsaw so you can ink different areas in different colours.

A print can be taken from just one piece of lino that has been carved into, or it could be several pieces that are printed in layers (a multi block print). Then there’s reduction printing where you carve one piece of lino and print it, then carve away more and print in a different colour and so on for as many layers as you like.

I work in combinations of all the above. Some prints are multi block and have anything from two to six blocks/layers, some are reduction prints, some have a jigsaw background and a single carved block (key block) printed on top. I’m a bit of a fan of caustic etching and will use it in some prints for either a small area of the print or in the case of ‘Apple Crumble Tree’ almost all the marks are made by caustic etching. 

Multi Block Printing
Multi block printing is where a different 'plate' is carved for each colour. They are then printed in order, often lightest to darkest, to build up the print. In all cases where there is more than one lino block/plate they have to be registered so that one block prints correctly on top of another.
Jigsaw Lino Printing
Jigsaw printing is where a sheet of lino is cut into different pieces that are inked in different colours and then put back together before taking the print. The above image is a jigsaw background with a 'key' plate printed on top to add the black across the whole image.
Caustic Etching Lino
Caustic etching is where a caustic solution is put on traditional grey lino and left to eat into the surface before being scrubbed off. This piece is partly carved and partly etched. The etching produces some interesting more organic shapes which are much harder to control.

This is just a basic guide to how a print is made, there are other techniques which aren’t covered here such as the ‘rainbow roll’ where more than one colour of ink is blended on the roller. Paper is another consideration and my prints tend to be on high quality paper designed for printmaking.

The inks I use are all water based which means there is no need for solvents in the clean up. I work with two different inks, Schmincke and Caligo Safe Wash. Both are high quality inks with excellent light fast properties meaning that my prints when displayed correctly will hold their colour for many many years to come. 

If you have any specific questions with relation to my prints please to feel free to contact me.