Revisiting Lino cutting

My lino printouts with the blocks at the bottom

As I thought I would, I have decided to lino cut my final outcomes. I got myself some sort of cheap set off Amazon and away we go. The set comes with a wonderful hand guard which doubles as a means of securing the linoleum in-place so it doesn’t move while I am cutting it with some very sharp things. Unlike the ink used at the University, which is oil-based, the stuff that came with my set is water-based. The ink tries extremely quickly, which is both a pro and a con. The oil based stuff is better for sharing and reusing the ink, but when it’s just you, your kitchen table and your lino blocks ready to go, water-based is fine.

There’s something gratifying about leaning into work to focus on the subtle hand movements you’re making and of course to make sure you don’t screw them up. As I was getting a feel for the tools I was using, I was able to think more about what I could do for future projects. Lino cutting is a lot like drawing with a knife. You also have to think and terms of negatives, since the stuff you are cutting away with the knife is actually the whitespace, not the actual shapes of your Image.

Having to get a feel for how much ink to put on the linoleum, how slowly to peel back the paper after it’s been applied to the printing block, which kind tall to use for which the area, all of these things require personal experience, trial and error and in the long run, will become second nature. These are the things about learning craft that make it enjoyable. Until an entire batch is destroyed and all you have to show for your pains Is a sad, sad face. But that’s why you measure twice and cut once, right?

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