LINOLEUM BLOCK PRINTS Block prints are one of the easiest forms of print art to learn. That being said there are risks involved. The blades are sharp enough to cut linoleum so they can also cut hands and fingers. IF YOU GET CUT—tell me immediately so we can take care of it. YOUR ASSIGNMENT WHAT: You will be making a multiple layered print. For this process you have several options. You can cut multiple blocks, prepare a background for your print, or try your hand at a reduction print. If you cut two different blocks they should have relatively equal value. One might be an image and the other a text or the two different imagesneed to connect to one another. If you choose to prepare a background for your print, you may pre-paint it with washes or make a pattern either freehand or by cutting a small block you can print repeatedly across the picture plane.Lastly, you can create a monoprint. A mono print uses the same ink as a block print. The ink is spread evenly onto a non-porous surface and an image or pattern is scraped into the ink with a rubber tool, a piece of cardboard, or anything else you might like to try. The last type of multilayered print you can try is a reduction print. With a reduction print you only cut away part of your linoleum at a time. You print starting with your lightest colors. Make several prints of the first layer to increase your chances for success. Cut additional parts of your linoleum away. Then print over the top of your first prints with the next lightest color. Continue the process until you have all the color layers you want from lightest to darkest. NOTE: you cannot go back and reprint the first print because you’ve taken more linoleum off your block, so you need to make enough prints to help your odds of getting a final print you like.
PREPARING YOUR BLOCK(S) HOW: Begin by planning you linoleum block(s) on a piece of paper. It is much easier to erase paper than linoleum. Your print can be abstract or representational. You may include text, images, and/or pattern. As you make your design remember the part you carve out does not receive ink so plan your design accordingly. To help you remember what parts to take away fill in all the area you plan to carve. Don’t just outline your images. Printing thin lines successfully is very difficult with linoleum block prints. The ink is fairly thick and tends to glob in shallow or narrow crevices. So again, plan your design accordingly. IMAGE TO BLOCK Transfer your image from your drawing by centering your image on top of the “linoleum” block. Tape one edge to your block so you can lift it to check the transfer but not mess up the alignment. Gently rub the back of your paper. The graphite from your drawing should transfer to the block. You can always retrace lines that are too light. CARVING THE BLOCK How to carve linoleum: Pick your desired blade. 1 is the narrowest and initially does not cut as deeply as the others. A 5 blade is the widest and good for taking off larger ares a linoleum. Loosen the metal chunk but be careful that you don’t completely unsure it. Holding the blade by the side, slip the blade into the handle between the rounds button in the center and the inner half ring. Make sure it is all the way in and cannot be pushed further down. Tighten the chunk. You are ready to carve your “linoleum” block. Place your block in front of you. ALWAYS-- 1. Have your linoleum flat on the table. 2. Keep the hand that is securing the linoleum block behind the blade. 3. Push the blade away from your body. Make your cuts deep enough and wide enough so when you print the ink does not glob in the crevices. You should not need much force when carving. The material we use is a faux linoleum so it is much easier to carve and does not become brittle with age. REMEMBER: You are carving away the parts of your design you do not want inked. These parts will be the color of your background, whether you’ve prepared a special background or simply let the paper show. Be aware, if you include text and want the text to be inked, you will need to carve around each of the letters. Finally, if you want to change blades, loosen the chunk and holding the blade from the side pull the first blade out before putting the next blade in. To protect your fingers you can wrap the blade with a cloth or wear leather gloves. PRINTING Deciding what you want to print and preparing your linoleum block is only the first part of the process. In fact, many printers think preparing your block is sort of like stretching a canvas, or simply getting your tools ready to use. Printing is where the bulk of the creativity occurs. Once you are satisfied with your block(s) you are ready to print. Tape a piece of freezer paper (shiny side up) to the table. It should be large enough to easily hold your ink and your block (be generous). Place a glob of ink on the freezer paper near the top and spread it out with a roller. You want to cover the surface of the roller evenly with no gaps and no globs. You do not want the ink to be too thick because it will spread as you press the paper onto the block. The ink will sound a bit like valor being pulled apart when it is ready. Once your roller is covered roll a thin layer of ink onto your block. Again, you want to cover your block but avoid globs. How you finish printing will depends somewhat on whether you’re using a prepared background, two blocks together, or a reduction print so I’ll go over that with you when you’re ready to print. LAST THING TO THINK ABOUT: YOU HAVE A WHAT. YOU HAVE A HOW. YOU NEED A WHY. Art is intended to communicate meaning. Thus far in this class we have been focused on medium and techniques—the what and the how of art making. For this project you also need to focus on the why. As you consider the images, patterns, and texts you may want to use in your print, think about what you value, what’s important to you, or what’s something you like. What character or personality traits are important to you? What makes someone a trusted friend? Besides, “clean your room” what life sayings have you heard growing up? Where do you get your identity? Your appearance? Your intellect? Your social or economic status? Your faith? Your family or heritage? What gets you excited? What are you passionate about. Now think about how that one thing or those many things can be expressed in a block print.