Category Archives: 4 Printing Linoblocks

Waratah Tryptich – A Fine Art Linocut

8 Waratah Tryptich - Limited Edition Handcoloured Linocut 1

Well anyone who has followed me on this blog for a while will know I LOVE Waratahs.

Drawing Images-WARATAH 2 ILLUSTRATION 1 WEB

There is such a majesty & structural quality to these particular Australian wildflowers not withstanding their bright red colouring with deep green leaves & the fact the flowers occur on long stems coming up from the ground. They really can be ‘seen from afar’ as their name means.

For a while now I have planned to do a Tryptich design using waratahs as a kind of companion print for my Flannel Flower Tryptich. This particular print was a commission for someone as a gift for his wife’s birthday. Did I mention I also LOVE flannel flowers too?

Flannel Flower Tryptich

Last year after my shoulder surgery I found it really difficult to work at all for a few months which was most frustrating! I knew I had to slowly get back so I started with thinking through ideas for new designs & taking some photos.

Eventually I was able to at least draw so one of the first artworks I started on was my Waratah Triptych.

I already knew I wanted to make it into a triptych & I had taken some photos pf both red and white waratahs over the years so decided to incorporate both into this design.

1 Waratah Tryptich - White Waratahs 1 WEB 4

I worked as I usually do. First with the framework for the design, then trawling through the hundreds of images I have of waratahs and finding suitable ones for this particular artwork. This process is interesting for me as I gradually reduce the amount of images I want to work with so I refine the vision I have for this work. I ask questions like – is my point of view from below or above? do I want to abstract any of the images or stay more true to for? How simple do I want the work to be visually? How much black do I want to incorporate? DO I really want to keep the defining structure I started with or would I prefer to break out and change it a little? or a lot?

Eventually I end up with a series of images which I will use as the basis of the work. I then start the drawing.

SKETCHBOOK - Flannel Flower & Waratah Trytiches WEB

Drawing is a process I love and have always loved. I feel that all artists no matter their medium of choice a strong skill base in drawing will always hold them in good stead. It teaches you to look more closely and especially in my case where I like the get the wildflowers I use botanically correct. Even if in the carving of the wildflowers compromise is made as to how they are depicted due to the process of carving lino, I know that they have started as botanically correct.

These are the final drawings of the three panels of the triptych.

DRAWINGS - Waratah Trytich WEB

When it comes to working the drawings into designs that can be carved I again work through creating black and white inked versions. This refines my designs and allows me to experiment with what I think I may be able to carve. These days after having to have shoulder surgery, I really value the ability to still be able to carve my linocuts so I guess for me if I have a clear template of what I want to carve it means I will hopefully will be able to a long time into the future.

Waratah Tryptich DEsign 5

I then transfer these final designs onto the lino ready to carve.

I must say after initially deciding to start small when starting back carving I just could not resist getting stuck into these three larger panels! It was weeks of carving and I must say did challenge my shoulder’s capacity to comply & caused a bit of pain. But I do have the most wonderful masseuse and physiotherapist who both help keep me on the straight and narrow & take away the pain!

And to printing!

For this particular design I decided to just do a colour rough using photoshop just to get an idea of the balance of the colour before handcolouring.

Finally I get to print the designs and then handcolour them! Finally I get to see the original concept from a few years ago actually come to fruition. I am really pleased with the results.

Lynette WEir - Waratahs Tryptich - June 2013 WEB

Here is a little video about the whole process from inspiration to Fine Art Linocut.

43 Blue Mtns Wildlflowers Lino - handcolouring 12

Blue Mountains Wildflowers Fine Art Linocut – A Step back in Time

Lynette Weir -Blue Mountains Wildflowers - Oct 2013 WEB

The linocut ‘Blue Mountains Wildflowers’ is really a step back in time for me on many levels from the design inspirations to my memories of this region. As I’ve spoken about before I love the Blue Mountains region west of Sydney, it has such a rugged beauty & the flora & fauna is integral to the whole region. The Blue Mountains has a strong Art Deco influence in architecture and design & examples of that can found throughout the small villages along the ridges leading all the way to Katoomba & beyond. The area really had its ‘heyday’ in the 1900-1960’s and in particular the 1930’s. This linocut art piece is also grounded in family experiences & an inheritance of sorts.

I guess this artwork had its beginnings with family. Both my family & my husband’s family have been keen visitors to the Blue Mountains for many years. When thinking about the Blue Mountains region I found I had so many stories & photos of that time from my mother-in-law & her family in particular, many of whom still live in the Blue Mountains. From honeymoons to day trips and in fact, it is where my husband & I had our honeymoon. It was also somewhere we took our kids for day trips, holidays & to visit family & friends as well.

The wildflowers of this region are truly spectacular. The waratahs & flannel flowers are two of the iconic Australian wildflowers found here & of course I could not go past the ‘Mountain Devils’ – Lambertia formosa – which I have childhood memories of the seedpods dressed up with tulle on sticks like cupie dolls but there are some more vivid examples of these dolls in this newspaper article! I actually still have a couple of  my mother-in-law’s tulle simple versions in an old china cabinet from her ‘nic-nacs’ which I just haven’t been able to part with. So the central panel of this work for me just had to be these three wildflowers.

A lot of research goes into investigating the species of an area, then I always take my own photographs & drawings of each of the species. This helps me to understand the structure of each plant & flower & increases the draftsmanship & design of the piece. There are usually so many I then have plenty to choose for the design.

So a little gallery in of inspirational wildflowers for Blue Mountains Wildflowers.

When my mother in law passed away a few years ago we inherited an old Art Deco style mirror. Looking a little shabby & worse for wear it does however have such an interesting shape. So I started with the mirror’s shape then developed that to create the overall structure of the design. It is then a matter of putting together all the research & developing that into the design. I spend a lot of time drawing, I think it is one of my favourite parts of the process. I have always loved drawing.

I see the linocuts as an extension of that & a way to push my vision & drawing further – the art of creative-art thinking. There is the ‘practical’ aspect of what can actually be carved out of lino but then there is the creative side of shapes & patterns. After I have finished the drawing of the design I then photocopy it several times & start to work on the actual linocut design. I use black felt pens to work on the designs, often photocopying, pasting & then using white out to work on this side of the designing. I guess I am still ‘old school’ in that I love to work with the physicality of paper, pen, pencil & ink but I do sometimes ‘dabble’ with computers & photoshop. I can spend weeks refining the images into exactly what I am happy with in the design & which I am able to produce in the medium.

Then to the carving of the design in lino. I have talked about different type of lino previously but I am pretty settled with the grey Silkcut & even managed to visit their gallery & workshop in Melbourne when I was there last time. I love my new Pfeil linocutting tools as they have made the carving just so much easier reducing the strain on my shoulder. There are actually 12 different blades in my set & I think so far I have only used half of them! Like a painter may use different brushes a Fine Art linocut artist uses their carving tools to create different effect within the surface of the lino. Some use it to create rough textural pieces but mine is a more methodical approach. I see my linocuts as botanical in nature so I try to represent the wildflowers as close to their essence as I can and this includes within the carving to create the images.

An interesting aspect to my work is the ‘uneven’ edges. I do not feel limited by the square or rectangular shapes that lino is usually presented to us from the art shop. I have always sought to move outside these shop bought restrictions. In order to do that I need to carefully cut back the edges. I start by making several strong cuts into the from surface of the lino. I then very carefully split the lino edge I want to remove & fold it towards the hessian back. Then I turn the lino over & cut along the hessian backing with a sharp bladed knife.

Often there can be a rough edge which is not something I want to be on my print. So I carefully remove the rough edges until I have a clean smooth cut. You need to take care especially around pieces with more ‘organic’ lines rather than the straight edges within this particular design.

Then to the printing of the linoblock. I have talked printing previously so here is just a little gallery for ‘Blue Mountains Wildflowers’

Then the handcolouring. I print with oil-based ink & handcolour with watercolour. I like that I can sue multiple layers & colours within each section to create the overall vibrancy of the wildflowers. You will see on the first ‘handcolour proof’ patches of colour & notes on which colour mixes I used. Although the aim is to paint each one the same you can appreciate that each one is actually individually painted & there are always variations.

Blue Mountains Wildflowers - A Fine Art Linocut

Here is a little video from photos about this whole process of creating Blue Mountains Wildflowers.  For those who don’t want to read explanations & learn better through images rather than words, you can now watch it in a little video format.

Seaside Wildflowers – The Development of a new Fine Art Linocut

Lynette Weir - Seaside Wildflowers

SEASIDE WILDFLOWERS – CREATING A FINE ART LINOCUT

The centrepiece artwork for an exhibition at the Northern Rivers Art Gallery was a new linocut – Seaside Wildflowers.
Back in February I was approached by the Northern Rivers Art Gallery Director Ingrid Hedgcock, to exhibit alongside an exhibition of the Master Woods Craftsman & his students. For me it came at a time when recently becoming an ‘empty nester’ & my shoulder was looking like it was going to recover after surgery & allow me to work – carve – again. It was also when I really need to get my arts practice back on track after a few years of life being too hectic to gain a consistent approach to my work.

I made the decision that I would work on finally completing many works I had been developing over many years as well as creating the centrepiece for the exhibition a work based around the Wildflowers synonymous with Ballina.
I will talk more about the other works in the exhibition in future posts but will start with the Seaside Wildflowers & where it all began.

In the process of creating this work I took some video footage & sill photographs with the idea of creating an education video showing my process from the inspiration through to the completion of the artwork.
I have always loved the seaside – the beach, the rock formations, the sea, the wildlife & of course the Wildflowers or flora. Even though I grew up in Sydney we spent every holidays by the sea at my grandparents in Yamba. Woody Head was another favourite place where my great uncle & Aunt lived, it is a truly beautiful natural place. We also spent a lot of time over where I now live on the ‘plateau’ region behind Ballina with my other grandparents – not that far from the seaside. As kids we would spend many hours going to the beach but also exploring the surrounding landscapes. So I know this region really well.


I start this particular genre of my work with research – some of this is ‘formal’ – flora studies of regions, plant identification lists but also I go & spend some time wherever possible wandering around the region taking photos. I like to see the flora/Wildflowers I am going to be drawing & document that in my own photos. By taking my own photos it also give me the opportunity to explore the process of visualising each wildflower or plant & how & where that might be represented within the initial concept of the artwork exploring different images of the particular plant. I look at things like the structure, colour & overall impression of each.
As I have talked about before, my work starts with ‘flashes’ of ideas scribbled into small sketchbooks, on post it notes or on scraps of paper.

For Seaside Wildflowers it began as a quick sketch on a post it note which I have now stuck into one of my small sketchbooks with additional notes & ideas. For this artwork I have drawn on the flora lists of the region, the council guides for flora in the Ballina Shire, books of flora of the region, my own explorations of the Ballina seaside region, my own photographs of specific species & finally my memories of childhood holidays alongside living in this region for over 20 years.
One of my abiding memories of the flora or Wildflowers of this area is the stunning Pandanus – Pandanus tectorius or Screwpine.

These strong ‘structural’ small trees are integral to my childhood memories & they are such a strong presence along the seaside of this region. The fruit which starts as a small green ‘ball-like’ structure & slowly moves to yellow tones & finally a vibrant orange colour is the aspect most people would recognise. For me the depiction of the pandanus would need to include the fruit. Less obvious for many people are the flowers – many would not be aware of the flowers. So I made the decision to make the ‘wildflower’ front & centre for this piece. The flower starts as cream bracts inside which the flower heads develop but the slowly the whole long spike of flowers emerge with the female flowers ending in long spikes of cream flowers & bracts.


The long strap like leaves emerge in a spiral from a central point & form a cluster on the end of the rather tortuous trunk & limbs. I think the pandanus reflects the very nature of growing by the season it’s tough ‘wildness’ & so it was for me to become the pivotal image for this artwork.


I started with many possible flora species I could incorporate into the piece, more than I could actually use & so this is where after setting out the pandanus I explore the size, structure, colours etc of all the possibilities. I see this is the fine art aspect of developing my Linocuts – this is where my training, skill & inspiration as an artist rather than a craftsperson comes into being. I bring my drawing & compositional skills to this process & it can be both the most frustrating as well as enjoyable part of the developing of my artwork.


Once I finish the detailed drawing I work through further developing this drawing into a form that can be carved in Lino which is my chosen medium for this piece.

For me this involves inking the design into shape & spaces.

11 Seaside Wildflowers - TEMPLATE FINAL 1

I then carve this into Lino to be printed. For me these two further processes again involve choices & changes in the translations from drawing to final artwork.


Once the Lino is finished being carved I then print it in black ink & handcolour with watercolour the final artwork.

The hand colouring is not simply a ‘fill in the spaces’ it involves again skill & training in watercolour as a medium including colour, contrast, tone etc alongside the application of the paint.


I have taken some video footage of the processes which is a quick look at the whole process and it is now on youtube.

Music – ‘The Temperature of the Air on the Bow of the Kaleetan’

by Chris Zabriskie

Used with Permission

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/und…
http://chriszabriskie.com/

linoprinting61

Printing a linoblock…how to start…

Printing a linoblock is not always an easy task taking much practice and attention to detail – there are so many linocut prints out there that have been have not been printed well so it is important to know what a well-printed linocut print looks like. I will discuss this further in the post Printing Linocuts…some common problems…  This was highlighted again to me yesterday whilst in a building with numerous artworks hanging throughout the large complex (I am very impressed by this!) including linocut prints (even more impressed!!). The images were fine but some of the printing was…

So, as I spent the day in the studio printing several linoblocks, I decided to post about printing linocuts or a carved linoblock. This is my print drying cupboard with some printings on the shelves drying.

  This is the latest linoblock that I have carved – it is of a Tawny Frogmouth.

The lino is ‘mounted’ onto a hessian backing. This holds the lino all together but can be something to watch when printing – especially if you cut the block at all. Make sure that the linoblock is clear of all dirt and excess chips from carving.

The first task in printing a linocut is to make sure you have the paper cut to the correct and same size for the whole number of the edition being printed. Then set up a ‘production line’ from inking plate – being right-handed my production line starts on the far left with:

   1. A clear perspex or glass sheet to use for rolling out the ink in a thin layer the ink then

   2. A clean backing sheet to place linoblock on to pick up the roll over of ink so it doesn’t get on the table

   3. A clean piece of cardboard with a ruled outline for the current linoblock and one for the sized paper so that you can lay down the linoblock and paper in the same spot each time and

   4. Felt for press or burnishing tool (spoon or baren).

As I do not currently do multi-coloured prints my ‘registration is limited to placing the linoblock in the correct position for the paper so I do not currently use a complicated registration board that would be required for multi-coloured prints to ensure each colour prints in the correct position on every print within an edition. I may talk about more complicated registration at a later dated.

ROLLING OUT THE INK: You start by setting up a line of ink across the top of the glass or perspex – inking block – you use for the inking.

You then pick up a small line of ink on the roller by dipping it into the line of ink.

Then in a small area square of the size of the roller and roll the ink up to an even layer

The image on the left is of a roller about 5 inches in width so the approximate ‘square’ of ink would be 5.5 inches square.

It may sound odd but the sound of the ink rolling is important as it give you an idea of creating a thin even spread of ink within your square. It starts with a tacky sound and then as you get an even layer it changes to a smooth hiss – yes I know very technical!!

NOTE: The aim is to pick up a layer of ink around the roller and then transferring the ink onto the linoblock.

Therefore when transferring the ink from the glass roll out and onto the lino block you roll in one direction (I usually go forward) and then ink in the same direction onto the block – not backwards and forwards.

You can think of this as picking up the ink and transferring it rather than the rolling the ink on and rolling off in by moving the roller forwards and backwards.

It then becomes a process of running the roller across the inked up glass/perspex plate and rolling it in one direction across the linoblock, then back to ‘pick up’ more ink off the glass plate and ‘roll off’ onto the lino.

This continual process adds increasing amounts of thin layers of ink to the block.

The aim is to transfer enough of a thin even layer of ink from the inking block to the linoblock in order to get a nice even, smooth print – too much ink and there will be raised uneven areas of ink on the paper (be wary of the ‘edges’ of the carved areas) or too little and the ink will be splotchy and missing in places.

I must say it is exciting to see the first print of a carved image come up clear and dramatic.

TIPS: If you view the block on an angle and catch the ink in the light you can see the general lay of ink and get some idea of whether it is even and using thin gloves whilst inking the linoblock inking helps keep your hands clean so then you can remove the gloves and use clean hands to pick up the clean paper. Note the edges of this image shows the roll over off the edges of the block onto the covering bottom paper.

Once the linoblock is fully inked then you MUST transfer the linoblock to a clean surface before placing the paper on it

Make sure you take off you gloves and move your inked block with clean hands.

The image shows my linoblock on the marked up cardboard for registration for the block and paper. The ink on the board is completely dry otherwise this ink will simply transfer to the nice clean expensive print paper.

Be careful any stray ink on fingertips is removed otherwise in you get not so lovely inky fingerprints on nice clean paper.

Place the paper you are printing on carefully over the linoblock by starting on one edge lined up with the paper size on the underneath registration block and carefully lowering it down across the inked print. This may take some practice and I have occasionally ‘dropped’ the paper over the block and created a messy print that cannot be used!!

You then burnish – rub – with a spoon or baren over the back of the paper applying pressure to transfer the ink from the linoblock and onto the paper – or if you are fortunate enough to have a press you can then place felts on top and into a relief printing press.

The final print…

Copyright – Lynette Weir
printingflawsFEATURE IMAGE

Printing Linocuts…some common problems…

The aim of printing a linoblock is to achieve a smooth even transfer of ink from the raised surface areas (or relief) that has been left after carving away the areas you wish to remain white or in the case of a reduction linocut the areas of colour you are building from the background to the foreground as each colour dries and another ‘layer’ is added.

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Printing on good quality acid-free rag based papers is an expensive exercise – especially if you have a ‘bad printing day’ – I know this from first hand experience.

Some days I just clean up and leave it when it keeps going wrong.

So I can well understand why linocut artists edition some of the less successful prints. But it can also be an experience thing – as you get more experienced in printing you learn what can be better achieved and then raise your expectations on what you see as an acceptable ‘editionable’ print.

This has certainly been my observation within my own arts practice.

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All of the following ‘flaws’ in a final print would cause me to discard that particular print from an edition.

However, if careful then issues such as ‘missing’ a couple of small dots in the ink surface can be overcome through further burnishing.

It is a matter of trial and error to see how you can overcome some of these imperfections and create better prints. Unless the flaw in the printing is either deliberate or by accident it creates an effect that enhances a particular image (but in an edition you would need to repeat the ‘accident ‘ to ensure all prints are as close to the same as is possible in a handmade artwork), any print that is not well-printed you should consider discarding from an edition.

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That all being said there is a certain ‘rustic’ quality to a hand pulled linocut – it is handmade and small imperfections are part of the ‘charm’.

I am by no means a master printer – they are just amazing and many many times on a ‘bad printing day’ I wish I could afford one!

I struggle with printing – some days you get into a zone and it all goes so well but often I find that can be on the last couple pf prints for the day!! I do however also believe that as an artist printmaker I should print my own linocuts – so persisting in trying to improve my printing is something I strive to do.

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Here a few tips about some common problems….

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…BEWARE THE HESSIAN BACKING AND EDGES….

** Make sure you cut any hessian backing from around the edges of the linoblock **

  As I pointed out in the post Printing a linoblock…how to start…  about printing linocuts the linoblock has a hessian backing. It is really important to ensure any ‘stray’ piece of that backing are cut off neatly. This includes stray fine ‘hairs’ from the backing. These can be a problem around the edgeline of he linoblock print as they can pick up ink in the process of inking the block and transfer to your final print. Also check your edges are neatly cut if that is part of the image as this can give ‘fuzzy’ edges..

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…UNEVEN PRINTING PRESSURE…

** Make sure you have applied even pressure across all the surfaces of the linoblock *

In this discarded print you can see small white patches where the ink has not been evenly applied. Essentially the aim is to get an even coating of ink transferring from the linoblock to the final editioned prints. There will nearly always be small imperfections in hand pulled print, however, in the wattle print above and the close-up of another print below – this level of uneven printing would indicate that I needed to discard these particular prints from an edition. Also check your roller has no imperfections (small indents, chips) causing small areas to not pick up ink evenly and therefore not transferring ink evenly. If hand burnishing then try to make sure you work in a pattern across the print. With a press sometimes turning the print around running the print through a second time helps if the press is not giving even pressure.

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…UNDER-INKING AND OVER-INKING OF THE LINOBLOCK…

** Make sure that you cover all sections of the linoblock evenly with the ink **

  The above problems with uneven pressure can also be caused by not putting enough ink on the linoblock or missing sections – as seen on the left. The opposite can also occur with the over-inking of the linoblock – as seen on the right. This can happen as easily as under-inking ! It is essentially when you try to roll too much ink on the block – this could be to avoid under-inking. It means the finer carving work such as fine lines “fill in” or you end up with raised lines of ink around the edges of the carved or white sections or you can see a ‘texture’ of ink on the surface of the dried print. I find viewing the inked linoblock against the light to check the ink levels can help – sometimes you can see some of these problems – add additional ink or print this over-inked block on cheap paper and remove excessive ink before moving back to the editioned prints.

The problem of oil-based inks and their susceptibility to weather conditions can contribute to over or under inked prints. Cold weather the ink gets stiff and tacky and may need warming a little and in hot weather when the ink is thinner you may need to apply less. When using the roller whilst inking the plate before transferring the ink there is s definite ‘even hiss’ sound to the ink indicating the ink is ready to transfer – as opposed to an ‘uneven tacky’ sound that indicates the ink needs more ‘work’ (rolling) to even it out. Much of this is trial and error for individual linocut printmakers to find what works for them.

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There is a larger circular mark in this following print.

This leads me to the next common printing problem or flaw….

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…BEWARE DIRT AND EXCESS LINO-CHIPS…

** Make sure you clean all excess ‘linochips’ (from carving) and any dirt particles from your linoblock before printing **

  Small ‘chips’ left on the carved sections of the linoblock, dirt particles or even fine hair can be picked up when inking the linoblock and end up on your print or linoblock. These then create small white ‘patches’ on your print. So if you end up with a spot enclosed by an unprinted white circles – this is what has caused it. Often this can be avoided by checking against the light your linoblock after inking and looking for any raised surfaces. These can be removed using a small palette knife before printing to avoid this problem. Ensure that you re-roll this section to ensure that ink now is in the ‘missed’ section. Check your roller for these particles as well. If you are careful you can lift the paper off that section without removing the whole paper then remove the particle, place the paper back and re-burnish or press – but this needs to be done carefully….

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…PAPER MOVEMENT ON THE LINOBLOCK…

** Make sure that you do not move the paper on the linoblock **

A final problem I will talk about is if the paper moves at all on the surface of the inked linoblock or if when you carefully place the paper on the inked block you move the paper then you get a ‘doubled’ or blurred image.

Generally you would set up a clean baseboard registration marking where to place the linoblock and where the paper needs to be placed.

Start by placing one edge of the paper (I use the left side as I am right-handed) in the correct position – hold this edge gently on place whilst you carefully place the paper across the block until you reach the other side. This is an extremely frustrating problem and essentially means this print is discarded. I do however use these particular prints when do ‘proofs’ or trial runs in the handcolouring with watercolours – so not all is lost…

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Copyright – Lynette Weir
waratahs1stproofwebFEATURE

The Final Carving and Proofing – Regeneration Waratahs

 

Above is the final finished carving of the “Regenerations – Waratahs” linoblock. It has been a slow progress – for example it took a full day to finish the central panel leaves. To give you an idea of the size of the block , the final printed image is 51cm x 30cm. The image on the right of the linoblock above shows the template image – note that it is a mirror image of the block – it is important to remember that when the image is printed it will print in reverse to the carved linoblock.

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nzwildflowersprint

Final Print Processes – New Zealand Wildflowers

This is an image of the first print off the block. The next step is waiting for it to dry and then handcolouring. I use an oil based ink to print the black which can take a few days to dry depending on the weather. I then do a sample handcoloured print working out exact colours – within the designing process I had already made the major decisions about the general colours I would use so it is a refining process at this stage. I usually mark on this ‘master’ the names and sample of all the colours I use for each flower/foliage.

This is quite a complicated design and very ‘busy’ – combinations of flowers, foliage and colour are quite complex – hopefully it will all work!!

So now I will wait for the ink to dry……..

Copyright – Lynette Weir
Preparing Linocut Blocks for Printing 1FEATURE

Preparing a Linocut Block for printing

Here a few quick tips on getting your linocut block prepared ready for printing.

1. Before you start carving or printing a linocut block  you can gently remove the waterproof coating.

Linocut blocks are coated in a waterproof coating – if you place a drop of water on the surface it will bead and not soak in.

I remove this coating with a superfine grade ‘wet’ sandpaper – using a small amount of water I gently rub the surface with the sandpaper.

You will see the coating coming off easily – I then towel dry the block. If you then place a drop of water on the surface it will soak in. Make sure you allow the linoblock is completely dry before you print.

2. I trim the edges of the block to make a clean line for the print using a steel ruler and a sharp bladed knife. Traditional linocut blocks have a hessian backing.

3. When you trim a linocut block this hessian backing needs to be further trimmed back to ensure none of the hessian stringing is left – this string can easily pick up ink when you are printing and create unsightly marks onto the surface of the print.

4. I use scissors to trim – first from the front and then I turn the block over and check of there are any pieces of string that may slowly come undone whilst printing and I trim these back as well.

I regularly check the block whilst printing to ensure no stray fine hairs are still there and picking up ink. It is easy to miss one and it is not until it marks the print that you realise it is there.

Within the outside white section of the image on the right you can see a fine white line – this is one of the small and often extremely fine hairs that can easily ruin a great print – just ask me I know!!

The image on the right shows the fine marks that can occur from these hairs picking up the ink. I have discarded many prints (which is quite costly) because of this. The image on the left shows a large section of the hessian backing that would definitely pick up ink and transfer to a print.

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I try to keep a particular standard to the prints I include within an edition and work at improving my skills on an ongoing basis. I am finding that as my actual printing technique and knowledge of printmaking improves so the standards I want within each print of an edition, also increases.

I am always seeking to learn new and improved techniques and tips through a variety of sources. I am very aware that over time my printmaking skills have improved and as a result so have the prints!

I hope this information helps other linocut printmakers in identifying this and other  common printing mistakes.

One of the other ingredients I use when printing it music – I always print with music playing (usually loudly) I find it helps with creating a space, mindset and rhythm for printing which is essentially a very carefully constructed hand-produced production line activity.

Copyright – Lynette Weir