I've been investigating relief prints or lino prints lately. I love the graphic look of them and wanted to experiment myself. I haven't done anything resembling printing for many many many years so I thought I'd give myself a refresher course and try a small print.
Of course, living on this island sometimes makes accessing materials difficult, but I did come up with the basics and have sent off my mailorder for more things today. Because it is a refresher course to me, I thought it may be new to others too and I will try to share my process here.
I first spent some time reviewing some videos at Wonder How on relief or block printing that we very useful in outlining the steps to take in creating a piece as well as sharing some tips for success.
The next decision was what design to use. It would have to be something that could translate easily into simple lines and shapes. I then remembered an old piece that I painted on wood many years ago, a sort of stylized fish and ocean and thought I'd see if I could create that as a simple line drawing and reduce it to fit the lino block that I had bought(4 x 5 1/2).
I outlined the size of the block on paper and used it to enclose the drawing of the fish. This was the final drawing.
I transferred the drawing to the lino, then went over it with a fine marker to make sure the lines stayed put. The piece is reversed now and will reverse again when printed.
I then used a carving tool to cut away the areas of the lino that would not receive ink. The decision around what to leave blank and what to carve I found a bit tricky and needed to do a few thumbnail sketches before I was brave enough to make the first cut. No going back then! The block cut like butter and I became absorbed in it, burning supper in the process....
Then came the fun part - making the first print! I used a spare sheet of glass as a palette and water-soluble block print inks for the print. I had a small brayer which was the perfect fit for the block, so I spent some time getting it coated with the right amount of ink. Too little and it would be patchy, too much and it would blur into the cut lines.
I made sure that the block was coated well with ink in all directions then plopped it onto a sketchbook page for an initial proof. I need a baren to be able to really make the ink adhere to the paper well, but as that's not available here and on order, I had to make do with the back of a wooden spoon. I've since found a rubberized grout float that I've 'borrowed' which should do the job nicely til my baren arrives.
I peeked to make sure the ink was doing as it should, then peeled it off the block and let it dry. The results are in the first image of this post. I played around and mixed some additional pigment to alter the blue and for a little more practice, then printed them on Somerset printing paper that I have. The pieces seem to be richer on the Somerset paper than on the plain paper and are obviously more absorbent.
I'll try them on a few other supports and practice a bit more. I have one more small lino block to play with and need to research another design for it. I quite enjoyed the process again and can see all sorts of possibilities for print use. Once I receive my materials I will have more scope with tools as this piece is carved with just one v cutter, making it a little clumsy at times, especially on the curves.