Thursday, June 09, 2016

Linocut Materials

I am changing up the blog a little bit. I am planning to do written posts as well as image posts. Written posts may be on topics pertaining to illustration, printmaking, or design. If you have any topics you would like me to write about, please leave it in the comments below.

For my first written post I'm keeping it simple and writing about the materials I use to make my linocut prints.

Linocut Materials

Lino -  There are a few different types of linoleum to choose from. The easiest to cut is a white, eraser-like material; I think it is called Safety-Cut. I would recommend to start with the Safety-Cut if you are carving lino for the first time. The lino I have pictured are the ones I prefer to use. The black lino is a medium-hardness rubber-like material, that is quite easy to cut. I also like it because you can use both sides. The brown lino is the regular unmounted linoleum. It is slightly harder to cut than the black lino, but is still fairly easy to carve. This kind only has the lino surface on one side, so you can only use it once.

Carving tool - The tool I use is the Speedball carving tool. This is the beginner's tool, you can also purchase more expensive tools that are a single blade. I find the Speedball brand is good for carving lino, so I have not purchased additional tools. The tool I use comes with the handle and several interchangeable blades inside. The sizes included range from #1 (very thin) to #5 (thick). Also included is a cutting blade. The blades are stored inside the handle when not in use.

Ink - The brand I use for ink is Speedball. The Speedball ink is water-soluble and non-toxic. I like it because it can be easily cleaned up with water, which works well if you work at home. The only downside is it dries fairly quickly, so you need to work quickly; this is especially true if the room you work in gets warm (as my apartment does in the summer). Fast drying time is also an upside, you don't have to let your print dry too long. I predominately use black, so I just buy a bigger container and it lasts a long time. Speedball also has smaller tubes of ink, as well as a variety of colours. You can also use oil-based inks for relief printing, these have a longer drying time (overnight); they need to be cleaned up using mineral spirits.

Palette Knife - This is what I use for spreading and mixing the ink to prepare it for printing. It's just a cheap plastic knife which works for me. You could upgrade to a metal palette knife.

Brayer - This is the brayer I use to apply the ink to the lino block. There are different hardness of brayers, they can range from soft rubber to a harder material. This brayer is on the softer end. I think generally a harder brayer is best for rolling out ink onto the block. I purchased this one because it was a bit wider than my small hard brayer. Generally it takes a few passes with the brayer to apply the right amount of ink to the block.

Paper - Paper is very fun to shop for, I could spend hours in a paper shop, there are so many varieties. You can print on any paper you like, including found paper such as paper bags, newsprint etc. For my prints I like to print on Mulberry paper, which is a thin, Japanese-type paper. One side is smooth, and the other side is a little rough, so you can experiment with both sides of the paper. I find the thinner paper easier to print by hand. Heavier papers may require more pressure (from a press) to print. What I also like about the Mulberry paper is it comes in a roll, and lasts a long time (I've had this roll for a couple years and am still using it). The disadvantage to the paper being rolled up is it curves up at the edges, and you will need to flatten it if using for presentation. My prints are the mid-way point in my process, so I don't need to worry about this.

Wooden Spoon - Last but not least is my printing tool, a very complicated item known as a wooden spoon/spatula. I use the wooden spoon for applying pressure to the back of the paper, which transfers the ink from the block to the paper. You can also purchase an item called a baren, which is a circular disc with a handle on it. Barens are also used for hand-printing. I have never personally used one, so I can't comment on the differences, but for my uses I find a wooden spoon is just fine.

If you would like to see these supplies in action, you can view my process video at:

Thanks for reading!


Grandma Snyder said...

Great article look forward to more You can embed your video in the blog if you wanted to - again great article

Erin Taniguchi said...

thanks Aunt Marj!