Posted on Fri 09 Nov 2012
If you fancy making your own Christmas or seasonal cards then this is a pretty simple method of doing so, by hand. You could just create one and have it digitally duplicated, but there is something very personal about a handcrafted card.
With the introduction of carbon paper and not needing to be too exact with lining up your prints, you should be making cards in no time!
You can buy most of the equipment from good art supplies shops, and you don’t need to spend a vast amount of money to get started. You also don’t need a printing press, as this is where the spoon comes in. I would recommend the ABIG lino-cutting tool. But don’t be tempted to buy cheap inks as these are often very sticky and will give you poor results.
I enjoyed using inks by Schmincke for this demonstration.They’re easy to work with. They dry quickly, but not too quickly (which can cause blotchiness on the print surface), and they’re easy to mix to achieve the right colour.
I tend to buy my supplies from www.greatart.co.uk or www.lawrence.co.uk
You will need
- A set of lino-cutting tools
- Two pieces of lino (cut to the same size -10x7.5cm)
- Water-based block printing inks: Schmincke Lino Print Colours.
- A sturdy dessert spoon
- A piece of Perspex to use as an inking plate
- A rubber ink roller (6-12cm in width)
- A pencil (HB to 3B)
- Tracing paper
- Some carbon paper, cut to the same size as the lino
- Standard white 80-90gsm paper (for test prints)
- 300gsm card cut to A5 size (for your final card prints)
Step 1 Choose your first image
I had an idea about creating a landscape with some winter trees in the foreground. Draw a line around your first lino block, and create the background design. I’ve chosen something fairly simple so hopefully it’ll be fairly easy to print again and again. This will be printed in the first colour.
Step 2 Create your second image
Place a piece of tracing paper over the first drawing and create a line drawing of your second image. I have drawn foreground trees. Again, draw a line around the border, so it matches the size of the lino.
Step 3 Transfer your first image
1. Cut a piece of carbon paper the same size as your lino. Place it, shiny side down, onto your lino.
2. Carefully place your drawing on top, making sure it lines up with the edges of the lino. Using a pencil, or a pen that no longer works, draw over all of the lines.
3. You will now have a clear copy of your drawing on the lino.
Step 4 Start cutting your first piece of lino
Using the finest tool first, cut the image shapes in the lino, pushing away from you.
Only remove the sections that you do not want to print. If you’re not sure about certain areas, leave them. You can always come back to them after the test-print.
To create texture use wider tools once you have defined the shapes within your design.
I added birds in my sky. I’m not sure if they will work, but I can remove them later if need be.
Step 5 Transfer your second image and cut this out of your second piece of lino
Repeat Steps 3 and 4 with your second image. The result is shown below.
Step 6 Do a test print
The two pieces of lino don’t have to be complete at this stage, but sufficiently ready for you to test what the image will look like. Make any obvious adjustments on either piece of lino.
1. Concentrate on lino 1 (your first piece of lino). Choose a colour. This should be the lighter colour, as this will be the background onto which you’ll overprint the darker foreground image. I chose green ink.
2. Squeeze a small amount of ink onto your inking plate. If you want to mix specific colours do this now.
Then with your roller, roll a small amount of the ink on the plate in a square shape, until you get a nice smooth fine shine on both the plate and your roller.
Don’t try to roll too much in one go, as it will be difficult to manoeuvre, and you really don’t need much to ink your lino.
3. Roll the ink onto your lino. If you need more, carefully repeat the process on your inking plate, making sure you don’t get too much ink on the roller. If you do, you’ll end up putting too much ink on the lino and may accidentally fill in details with ink and therefore lose them. If this happens, wash and dry the lino, and re-ink when dry.
4. Now drop a piece of test-print paper on top of your inked lino. Hold firm with one hand and apply pressure with your spoon with the other. Be careful not to let the paper slip, and try to make sure you have applied pressure evenly.
5. Remove the paper and take a look at your first printed image. In my print, I’m still not sure which colour to go with, so I have repeated the process three times (cleaning the lino with warm water each time) to help me decide.
Step 7 Test print your second lino image on top of your first
1. Ink up your second piece of lino (lino 2) in the same way.
When lino 1 test print is dry, turn over the inked lino 2 and place it on top of the test print, making sure the piece of lino is lined up with the edges of the test print. Press down firmly, but carefully.
2. Rub the back of the lino with your spoon, and (this is the trickiest bit) turn over the lino and paper, being careful not to let the paper or lino slip.
Now again, rub the paper with the spoon until you have applied pressure to all of the inked areas.
3. Pull off the paper and have a look at your design. Again, I experimented with the colour just to see what appeals to me. I eventually decided on the darker green colour and the black ink.
Step 8 Apply your linocut prints to your greeting cards
1. When applying your linocut prints to your greeting cards you’ll need to put them both inkside- down onto the card, so you can position them correctly then carefully flip them over (as you did with lino 2).
Cut your card to A6 size, place in a landscape position and print on the right-hand side of the card, so that when it’s dry you can fold the card in half.
2. Because the card is thicker than test print paper you’re much more likely to slip when flipping the lino and paper over, but after a few practices you’ll get the hang of it.
Step 9 Adjustments!
It’s never too late to make image adjustments. For my design, I decided to remove the birds, as they weren’t really adding anything to the design and were interfering with the falling snow.
Also, I felt that the green and black didn’t seem wintery enough, so I changed my colours to shades of blue. I feel it works better.
Play around with colours and cut further until you are happy with your design, and then print away!
Click here to follow another linocut print demonstration with Kerry Day
This linocut demonstration is taken from the December 2012 issue of Leisure Painter.
Click here to purchase a digital edition of this magazine
James Green's previous step-by-step linocut demonstrations can be found in the Summer 2011 and Summer 2012