Making a lino print - 4

This picture may look confusing because I have rolled out the ink onto a piece of mirror. I used to have a slab of flat glass for this purpose which is better. Don't roll the ink out too thickly or the ink will spill over the edges of your design and blur the image.

Here is a palette knife, which I find useful for spreading the ink onto the glass and also for picking up bits of dust that sometimes get stuck onto the surface of the inked lino despite all my care to keep everything clean.

I use a small roller press but you don't have to have one. If you do, you will find that it takes a number of trials to get the right balance between the amount of ink and the pressure on the rollers.

Another very good method is just to rub the paper with the back of a spoon.

Here I lift up a corner of the image to assess progress. In this case the image is too light. The paper can be smoothed back onto the lino for further rubbing without losing registration, as long as only a corner has been lifted off. However in this case there is not enough ink. 

The best papers for lino are smooth surfaced. Below I am experimenting with acid-free tracing paper. I can see exactly what is happening and the finished print can be reversed if destired!

Sometimes an area that has been cut away gets inked up by mistake. This can add to the effect, or you may prefer to cut away the unwanted inked area.

Here is the final image:


Making a lino print - 3

Here she is, all cut out. Now for inking up. Ooh, this is the exciting part.


Making a lino print - 2

Having inked the image onto the lino, I start cutting away the areas I want to be un-inked (in this case it will be a black-and-white image, so I cut away the areas that are to be white).

Instead of the usual lino cutting tools I use Japanese wood block tools (see picture). I am told that tools for Western hardwood woodcuts are fine too. Not only do the usual tools not cut well, they are also not particularly cheap. 

For all things printing-related, try Intaglio Printmakers in Southwark Bridge Road, London.

If you have regular lino cutting tools you may find cutting easier if you warm the lino with an iron. However this interrupts the work and with proper tools it is not necessary.

I use the little v-shaped tool almost exclusively. This gives as fine a measure of control as you can reasonably expect with lino. I start with the mermaid's face because this is the part of the image that is most critical and if I mess up here I shall have to start again. I tend to cut away a little less than may be necessary since corrections can be made later, whereas if I cut away too much, nothing can be done.


Making a lino print - 1

Here is the drawing I am starting with. I haven't yet thought out all the details of the design - these will emerge as I work with the medium. The next stage is to transfer the drawing to the surface of the lino. To this end I scribble on the back of the drawing using a soft pencil (3B or softer) - see below:

Then I place the drawing face up on the lino and draw over the lines with a hard pencil (H or harder). This will transfer the image to the lino. Then I start to ink in the design. You will see that I have missed a bit and so have to repeat the process for that detail.
Below is the inked in version. I am still deciding whether to fill the sea with waves and the rock with seaweed or to have large areas of black and let the mermaid's body be the only thing that this print is about. Once I have decided that I can begin cutting.