Can you tell that I really enjoy lino printing!? I haven’t been quite as prolific this week but I have managed to do a few small(er) cuts as well as my Norwegian stave church, which I found in a book on pine trees and instantly fell in love with! It has taken me most of a week to do the drawing and sizing of it as well as the cutting (those fish-scale roofs are amazing, but so fiddly!). It’s still not finished, but it’s getting there. It’s my biggest and most ambitious print to date. I LOVE it! I am also rather fond of my lighthouse (modelled loosely on St Mary’s at Whitley Bay). And my acorn. And my carrot. Oh and my first attempt at lettering. Nothing special – my kerning is all out and it’s on a scrap bit of softcut – but I enjoyed it and now I have got the system for doing it worked out, I will be trying some more (nemophilist, by the way, is someone with a love of forests or woodlands, a ‘haunter of woods’).
I caved and treated myself to three Pfeil tools: to a linocutter what Festool tools are to a carpenter. They slice through lino like a hot knife through butter and make the entire process so much easier and less deadly to your fingers. I definitely recommend them if you’re looking to get into lino cutting. I’m still having issues with ink, though the last lot of prints came out better than any before, so it’s likely my technique that’s improving rather than anything to do with the ink! I have also tried the Versafine ink by Tsukineko, which I like a lot, and would probably use for paper/thin card prints. What are you up to craft-wise?
Following hot on the heels of my seagull, I spent a couple of hours over the bank holiday weekend playing with smaller, more fiddly stamps. It was lovely having a bit of creative energy again and I could tell I was using bits of my brain that I hadn’t for a while. I started out with a hand and a supposed-to-be-cherry blossom before moving on to a feather, another hand, an ash leaf and a funky carrot. I’m quite pleased with the results! Plus seven stamps over three days is pretty good going :)
I’m certainly finding it a challenge to master the art of tight corners while cutting the lino (my tools are not high-end, and some need sharpening) so I’ll keep on trying to improve that. I am also having some difficulties with the ink; it’s the right stuff (water-based high-tack EssDee printing ink) but I think something’s going wrong between the amount of ink, the rolling and the paper it’s being printed onto. I seem to get better results using thinner paper and ink pads (like you’d use for card making) rather than the proper ink. It’s obviously something I’m doing wrong and which will get better with practise!
It has been years since I picked up pencil, notebook, blank lino and an eraser and set to work. Years. But it was so good and just as much fun as I remembered it being. I fired up iTunes (how enjoyable is it to just press shuffle and listen away?!) and got to work. This exercise was of course punctuated by the cries of our teething toddler whose molars are just coming through; but after drawing out my picture, I got reacquainted with the smell of lino (it’s delicious and linseedy) and the different lino cutting tool blades. I remembered vaguely that tilting a No. 2 blade to one side will ‘shave’ an area whereas the tip will take a deep, wide u-shaped cut if used with any force.
I love lino printing, I really do. I might not be any good at it, but I love doing it. I think printing and print-making is nothing short of magic. It’s not black and white; while you remove bits and keep others to create an image, even the bits you take away leave lines that can – depending on how much you take or leave – be seen in the resulting print. It has more motion and life than a simple drawing. And everyone can do it; it’s not expensive – you can start carving erasers, or even potatoes :)
By the time I was finished and had done 3 proofs – two pencil rubbings and one ink-pad ‘print’ – it was 12:05am. The latest I’ve been up for a good long time! I looked down at myself and realised I was covered in bits. I got up first thing this morning and finished tweaking here and there until I was happy with the level of detail. The result? Well, I think it’s my best to date :)
(Some of the) Music that has been played while printing: