Printing a linoblock is not always an easy task – there are so many linocut prints out there that have been have not been printed well. This was highlighted again to me yesterday whilst in a building with numerous artworks hanging throughout the large complex (I am very impressed by this!) including linocut prints (even more impressed!!). The images were fine but some of the printing was…
So, as I spent the day in the studio printing several linoblocks, I decided to post about printing linocuts or a carved linoblock. This is my print drying cupboard with some of todays printing.
This is the latest linoblock that I have carved – it is of a Tawny Frogmouth.
The lino is ‘mounted’ onto a hessian backing. This holds the lino all together but can be something to watch when printing – especially if you cut the block at all. Make sure that the linoblock is clear of all dirt and excess chips from carving.
The first step in printing is to make sure you have the paper cut to the correct size and set up a ‘production line’ from inking plate – paper for linoblock to transfer (roll onto) the ink – clean backing sheet to place linoblock on – felt for press or burnishing tool (spoon or baren).
We can be a pedantic lot – printmakers!
You start by setting up a line of ink across the top of the glass or perspex you use for the inking. You then pick up a small line of ink on the roller by dipping it into the line of ink. Then you set about in a small area square of the size of the roller and roll the ink up to an even layer. It starts with a tacky sound and then as you get an even layer it changes to a smooth hiss – yes I know very technical!!
NOTE: The aim is to pick up a layer of ink around the roller and then transferring the ink onto the linoblock. Therefore you roll in one direction (I usually go forward) and then ink in the same direction onto the block – not backwards and forwards. You can think of this as picking up the ink and transferring it rather than the rolling the ink on and rolling off in by moving the roller forwards and backwards.
The aim is to transfer a thin even layer of ink from the inking block to the linoblock – it is great to see the first print of a carved image come up clear and dramatic. If you view the block on an angle and catch the ink in the light you can see the general lay of ink and get some idea of whether it is even. Using thin gloves for inking helps keep your hands clean.
Then you MUST transfer the linoblock to a clean surface before placing the paper on it. Otherwise the ink that gathers around the outside of the block from the roller will simply transfer to the nice clean expensive paper. Take off you gloves and move your inked block with clean hands. Be careful any stray ink on fingertips is removed otherwise in you get not so lovely inky fingerprints on nice clean paper.
Place the paper you are printing on carefully over the linoblock – then burnish with a spoon or baren – or place felts on top and into a relief printing press.
The final print…
Tomorrow I’ll talk about some printing flaws and their causes.