Linocut Love

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Good afternoon, friends!

This week I have a linocut D.I.Y. for you.

What is linocut, you ask?

Well, gather round because I’m going to give you some fun facts and instruction that will make you the toast of every coffeehouse conversation and cocktail party. You will sound très sophisticated!

Linocut is a printmaking technique in which you cut into a linoleum block to make a relief. You coat the un-carved surface with ink and then transfer the image to whatever surface onto which you are printing.

Linocuts look and feel a lot like the rubber stamps you may be used to.  However, with linocuts, you tend to press the paper to the linocut rather than the reverse.

Linocuts are fantastic for any sort of simple multiple printing you might like to do.  I, for one, will be making about a zillion napkins, place mats and maybe even some thank you cards using this technique.  It’s cheap, fairly easy and way fun.

On to the step-by-step tutorial!

Here are the tools you will need:

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x-acto knife or linocut carving tools

linoleum block

light colored pen

dark colored pen

ink pad

paper

spoon

Instructions:

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Step 1: Get out your linocut block and a light colored pen.  I used a pink sharpie pen.  Sketch out your design.  Starting with a light pen lets you make some mistakes before coming back in and using a dark one.

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Step 2: Sketch your final design over your original with a dark pen.  I used a black marker.  Fill in all the spaces that you will be cutting out, so that you have a handy guide that will keep your from cutting too far into your image.

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Step 3: Using an exact-o or a fancy pants carving tool, cut out all of your colored-in space.  Try to cut into the linoleum at a consistent depth.  You do not need to go super-deep.

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Step 4: Your block should look something like this when you are finished.  See? Not super pretty or neat.  Nothing fancy.

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Step 5: Apply ink to your block.  You can use an ink pad or be a legit printmaker and use a brayer.  This step is a great testing point to see if you did not cut deeply enough in your negative space.  See where there are little speckles of ink in the background? I need to cut those spaces away.

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Step 6: Remember those crayon rubbings you did back in elementary school? Same deal-io.  Place your paper onto the block and then rub the surface of the paper with the back of a spoon.  When you are finished, lift away your paper to see your printed image! Be sure not to let your paper slide, or you will end up with a 16-tentacled octo-oops like me!

That’s all there is to it! If you find you really love linocuts, you can get a special linocut press that will eliminate the need for the spoon-rubbing technique and will allow you to get consistently-aligned prints for multiples.

Try to start with a simple design, and then get more creative like these artists did:

Anatomical Heart Pillow by Horse and Hare

Red Bird with Flowers by Amelia Herbertson

Try it out at home and show us your results!

xoxoxo

Rachel Eleanor

Listening to Dinah by Bin Crosby

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