Workshop: Linocut

Last Monday I participated in a linocut workshop. I went in never having done it before with a few design ideas for our most recent assignment brief. I was looking forward to learning a new technique in design as there are certain things that are difficult to replicate on computer software.

My lino before being inked up

Initially Alisa explained to us how the whole process worked and demonstrated different tools and the different lino sheets you could use and the benefits and drawbacks of each. We had a choice between a blue soft and flexible rubber type lino that was easy to carve out of and a firmer grey lino which although produced a more reliable and professional print, had to be warmed up before it could be cut out of easily. I experimented with both but decided to use the blue softer lino as the grey lino would have cooled down before I had finished my design because I was still learning the techniques of cutting. It would be good to try using the grey lino next time to see the difference. We then went to practice with the cutting tools and cut out our own designs. Once we had done this Alisa showed us how to print, we had already learned how to roll ink out in a previous workshop (which I will do a blog post on about once I receive my work back from my first hand in). This involved covering the lino with an ink colour of our choice (I chose black as my designs were geometrical and felt this would show best in a dark colour to contrast with the white paper) then placing paper over it, covering it with heavy fabric to stop the press from being damaged then putting immense pressure using a press between the inked up lino and the paper to transfer the ink.

Rolling the ink onto my piece of lino using the hard roller
The ink had to be rolled out onto the table before applying to the lino to ensure even distribution

If done correctly, the ink will have transferred from the piece of lino to the paper, and depending on whether I used a soft or hard roller to spread the ink, the final image will either be full of fine detail (using a soft ink roller presses the ink into the smaller, lower, more detailed parts of the lino) or contain little detail (if a hard roller is used the ink will only spread onto the highest parts of the lino, therefore leaving only the largest crests to transfer detail to the paper). I tried both rollers to see what different it would make with my design however as I had cut out a very extreme pattern with little detail there wasn’t much difference.

The press…

I enjoyed this workshop, it was great to get hands on with the design and have to create the drawing by cutting out material rather than drawing. I was pleased with my overall result and it will fit in well with my ideas for the current brief. If I were to do this again I would try a more detailed intricate design so the soft roller has more of an effect. I would also like to try it with two different coloured inks, perhaps printing one then cutting more detail out of the lino and then printing a second coloured print on top.

A cheesy grin and my lino inked up and ready to be printed
Some of my prints!