Learning Linocutting

Tools of the trade

I started learning about linocut a little while ago.

From Wikipeda: “Linocut is a printmaking technique, a variant of woodcut in which a sheet of linoleum (sometimes mounted on a wooden block) is used for the relief surface. A design is cut into the linoleum surface with a sharp knife, V-shaped chisel or gouge, with the raised (uncarved) areas representing a reversal (mirror image) of the parts to show printed. The linoleum sheet is inked with a roller (called a brayer), and then impressed onto paper or fabric. The actual printing can be done by hand or with a press.”  I found  great easy-cut linocut sheets at the art store.  They are softer than the sheet I first learned with.  Because they are softer though, its harder to get the amount of details you can get from tougher linoleum sheets.  The easy-cut sheets are also a little more expensive, but my less-cut-up fingers are thankful for this invention.

Before I took a class on linocutting, I tried to get the look of blockprinting without the tools.  It turned out okay, but it didn’t look as neat as the linocut does. I’ve been trying to find different materials to print with.  As a lesson for my students, we looked at printing, and created prints of our own.  Since linocut is not for people under the age of 12, we used styrofoam meat trays and a ball point pen as a stylus.  It was a good substitute, and the kids enjoyed it.  I still use Styrofoam for some prints, especially if I don’t want to keep the stamp I’ve made.

I enjoy cutting lino though.  There’s something about carving into a blank square and creating a picture out of it.  Cutting the block is kind of a zen thing for me.  I zone out, and can spend hours just cutting stamps.  I love the rough look of a print.

I use linocut in a lot in my mixed media work.  I created a tutorial about blockprinting, its located in the tutorials page, or you can click here.

I hope you give it a try.