During January-February-March 2023 I took a printmaking class at Abington Art Center in Abington, PA. I have some experience of printmaking, primarily relief printing with linoleum, and we did some work of this type during the sessions. In addition, this class exposed me to several other methods of making prints. I’ll give you my experiences in a series of posts.
I did quite a bit of linoleum block printing in this class. It’s a familiar process to me, since I have done a good bit of it in fits and starts over the past 25 years or do. I have never printed any of my work with a press, though.
I won’t go through the tools and materials for linoleum printing since it is very easy to find information about it. Basically, it’s a form of relief printing – you cut away the areas on the linoleum that you don’t want to print, and the remaining raised areas are what will form your image.
I decided to work in only one color of ink. This meant that the image I cut would be all printed at once in one color (throughout the class I used black) and that was it. Other students went on to work in the reduction method, in which the plate is cut, printed in one color, and then more is cut away, and a different color applied to the plate and printed on top of the first version, and so on, resulting in a multi-colored image.
Preparing the plate
I’ll show you the process for a small image I made that involved…scribbles. Yes.
I’m interested in handwriting and words and letters. You may remember seeing this show up in some past artworks:
I thought it would be fun to try it in linoleum. First I wrote out some scribbles on paper.
I scanned it. Re-oriented it. Then I flipped it digitally (because it will print the opposite way). I tried it inverted to black. Finally I settled on a black and white divided image – this is what I wanted my finished print to look like.
I did wonder if I could actually cut this image. The black section is not hard – just cut away the “text”. The white section, though, would require me to cut around each one of the “letters”. Oh dear.
I decided to give it a try. It’s just linoleum! So, I got my piece of linoleum (about 5″ x 8″) and transferred my design using tracing paper and carbon paper and some more flipping.
Here is the plate ready to be worked on:
It took me time and patience but I got the carving done to my satisfaction. I enjoy cutting linoleum; I find it calming. Here is the plate carved out (this photo is after the plate has been inked and used, but I think you get the idea).
I took the plate to class and printed it, using Speedball water-based ink.
Just for fun, I show you here a test print done on a dictionary page. Words and more words, nonsense and sense. I like the idea.
I’m happy with this image and I had a lot of fun designing, cutting, and printing it!
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I have been really enjoying your recent printmaking posts. Just wanted to say that I love making collographs too, but haven’t done it for years. I thought I might return to printmaking and have been looking out to buy an old-fashioned mangle that’s been converted to a press. I am hoping to move house sometime this year and get a garage or similar where I can have space for a press. Fingers very much crossed. Loving your recent collographs. Great work.
Thank you. I hope you get the chance to go back into it. (I have a clay slab roller that I’ve been reading about how I could use it as a press; I’ve Got that on my list to try maybe later this summer). I didn’t expect anything from collagraph work and wow was I surprised.
The best thing about the process is that you’re never entirely sure precisely how it will turn out.
That’s exactly it. You think you know, you think you predict, and then…!!! surprise!