trying out linocut

My dad has been asking if there’s anything he can get me for Christmas – we’re similar in the respect that when we want something we tend to just get it rather than waiting until birthdays or Christmas so we’re difficult to buy for. Also I don’t expect anyone to be buying me things so I don’t keep a list of stuff I want – feels very entitled and presumptuous! Anyway, I saw a cool flamingo and pineapple rubber stamp set online last week and thought I would buy it but when I followed the link it was an Etsy listing and had already sold. All the alternatives offered were just not quite what I wanted so since then I got to thinking what if I could carve my own stamp. A few internet searches later and I was deep into the world of linocut. Another few searches brought up a starter kit with everything you need at a reasonable price so I ordered it and let my dad know what he’s got me for Christmas (he doesn’t do the internet so wouldn’t have been able to order it himself). It arrived quicker than expected and I couldn’t keep it sealed until Christmas so cracked it open last night (you’ve got to check all the bit are there, right ;)  ).

I’m pretty impressed – it came with a plastic tray, roller and tube of ink for the printing. 2 sheets of lino, 2 sheets of some other rubber stuff, 2 discs of a different type of rubber, a practice piece of lino, cutting tool with various blades, a disc stamper thing, a hand guard and an instruction leaflet. For the price paid I’m sure the tools are not the best quality but it’s really good to be able to just dive in and if I really like it then I can always upgrade a few of the important bits.

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I started off as instructed, trying out the different blades on the practice piece of lino. The only blade I can’t use is a curved one for slicing thin lines – it’s designed to be used right handed. I have a scalpel that could probably do that job instead. After a few cuts I felt like I wanted to actually make something and not just waste the practice piece so I went for a pineapple in two parts:

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I didn’t want to try using the roller and tube ink on such a tiny stamp so I dug out my ink pads – turns out it’s been so long since I used them (must have had the majority going on 10 years) that they’ve mostly all dried up. I found a couple that were still ok:

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Not bad but not particularly tropical colours. The leaves on their own made a passable sprig of holly though, which was nice. Would paint work? I dug out some acrylic and tried it out:

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Sort of. I applied it to the lino using a brush so it clogged up the grooves pretty fast. Not to waste either the tiny remnant of the lino practice piece or the bit of paint I had I experimented some more:

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I’m definitely a fan of the semi abstract tessellation using stamps / prints. Some investigation and inspiration led me to using a square and carving different motifs into the corners so when printed you’d get a tiled pattern:

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I liked the surprise of the different patterns you get when printed and lined up. It was harder work than I thought for both the carving and printing. It was also quite messy:

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I think I’m going to continue with this idea of tiles but next try something more planned out and / or in different coloured layers (need to get some more colours for that though…)

See the wonderful things people are doing with lino cutting that have been inspiring me so far here:

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