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Lino Printmaking at Home

Printmaking at home can be lots of fun and there are many ways to do it. Here is what you will need and a step by step guide for creating your own prints. Additionally, I made sure to include tips and tricks as well as recommended brands for first time or veteran printmakers.

What you will need

  • Lino (you can purchase lino blocks at your local art store or here online:

  • A soft rubber brayer (I use the brand Speedball)

  • An X-Acto knife

  • Plexiglass or equivalent surface for inks (non-porous)

  • An assortment of linoleum cutters (I have a set from Lee Valley but Speedball also has a handy set that all of the attachments can be stored inside the handle)

  • Ink (I use water-soluble ink from Speedball but again you can use other brands) Make sure to pick out the main colours of the colour wheel. At Michael's, there isn't a wide selection of inks but like paint, you can mix them together to get the colours you desire.

  • A workspace that can get dirty

  • Vegetable oil

  • Rags that can be ruined

  • The paper you would like to print on (in my case I will be demonstrating on cards)

  • Optional: Transfer paper (I use this to transfer my drawings onto the lino surface. This allows me to save time drawing)

  • Optional: Cutting matt

Step by Step

1. The Image:

Your first step is to decide on what you would like to print. Coming up with a drawing of what you would like to see is a crucial step in the process. This will also help you hammer out the size of your print, what you want to use it for, and what you will be printing on.

Make sure to sketch out your full image because you will also need to decide what you are carving away. Take your time and don't be afraid to make mistakes. This is the time to experiment.

2. Transfer

Your next step will be to transfer the drawing to your lino block. This can be done by either drawing the image again freehand; but, I prefer to use graphite paper.

Place the dark side of the graphite paper against your lino block. Place your image on top and begin to trace the lines in pencil. If you know there are certain areas that are one colour or you plan to carve away, make sure to fill it in so that you know for later. Make sure you press firmly enough to transfer the image. When you have finished tracing remove both the graphite paper and your image from the lino block. If you are missing some lines or they appear faint, simply trace over them with a pencil.

TIP: Secure your drawing and tracing paper to the block with a piece of tape. This will ensure that your image does not move.

3. Carving

Time to start carving! This can get very messy as you will have small pieces of lino everywhere! Have the vacuum ready for when you are done...

Your carving tools, if you bought or have either of the above, have different styles of blades. Use those to your advantage; don't try and carve the whole image with a small blade if it's unnecessary, it will take forever.

TIP: Use your X-Acto knife to outline the areas that you would like to carve away. When you go to use your other tools some spots will just pop out. This will also help with creating sharp edges.

SAFETY TIP: Always carve away from you and your resting hand. Your tools may not look sharp but they are. BE CAREFUL!

4. Printing

The next step can get quite messy so make sure you secure a plastic table cloth onto your surface that you will be using. Wearing rubber gloves is also a good idea, as well as a smock or apron to protect your clothes.

Using your plexiglass or non-porous surface, place a dollop of your colour in the centre of the surface. Using your roller, begin to run it back and forth over your colour. You can do this in vertical lines as well as horizontal. You know your ink is ready when it makes a sticky noise.

5. Inking your Lino

Once your ink is making a sticky noise on the plexiglass. Your ink is ready to be used to coat your lino. Using your roller, roll the ink onto your lino print. Make sure to fully coat the print. Again you should hear a sticky noise.

TIP: if you have large open areas that are not supposed to be inked, place some painter's tape or paper so that when you ink your lino you don't get some on undesired areas.

6. Time to Print

You can print two ways.

You can either place the paper on the lino or the lino on the paper. Press down lightly to complete your transfer. Peel off the lino or paper, and voila! Your print has been created! You can repeat steps 4 - 6 as many times as you would like!

(Want to watch a quick video? Head to my Instagram page where I show you part of the process).

TIP: if there are some adjustments to make, go ahead and make them! This is your time to experiment. Try different colours, different paper, find what works for you!

Have fun creating!!

If you have questions or comments please share below and I will try and answer them as best I can.


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