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 can also hands and fingers. When cutting linoleum ALWAYS: 1. Have your linoleum flat on the table. 2. Push the blade away from your body. 3. Keep the hand that is securing the linoleum block behind the blade. YOUR ASSIGNMENT THE IMAGE Begin by planning you linoleum block on a piece of paper. It is much easier to erase paper than linoleum. Your design may be abstract or representational. You may include text, images, and/or pattern. As you make your design remember the parts you carve out will not receive ink so plan your design accordingly. It will be easier when you get to the carving stage (though not as easy in the drawing stage) if the pencil marks are the parts of you design that you carve out (AKA don’t want inked). Another important thing to remember is to leave a border around your print. The border does not need to be solid but it does need to be able to support the edges of the paper you print. Printing thin lines successfully is very difficult with linoleum block prints. The ink is fairly thick and tends to glob in the crevices. Again, plan your design accordingly. Finally, there are a couple methods of transferring a drawing to a linoleum block. One reverses the image on the block yet the print will be the way you drew it. The other keeps the image as you drew it on the block but reverses it on the print. If you use text (and don’t want it to appear backwards in your print) you will want to reverse your image on the block so the print will not be reversed. Everyone will use a 5 ¾” x 8” block of “linoleum”. 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. Rub the back of your image. The graphite should transfer to the block. You can always retrace lines that are too light. The other way to transfer a drawing to a block is to cover the back of your drawing with graphite. Tape it in place. Then redraw the image. Again, the graphite from the back should transfer to the block. Be careful not to rub the drawing anywhere other than where you have drawn your image or your block will be smudged. CARVING You are now ready to carve your “linoleum” block. Make your cuts deep enough and wide enough so that the ink does not glob in the crevices. You do not need a lot of force. The material we use is a faux linoleum so it is much easier to carve and does not become brittle with age. REMEMBER: Every part you carve away will not hold ink. Therefore, if you include text and want the text to be inked you will need to carve around the letters. PRINTING Once you are satisfied with your block 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 generous glob of ink on the freezer paper and spread it out with a roller. You want to cover the surface of the roller evenly with no gaps and no globs. Once your roller is covered roll the ink from it onto your block. Again, you want to cover your block and avoid globs and gaps. We do not have a press so you may print one of two different ways. Begin by making sure your print paper is larger than your block. You may either position your print paper on top of your block or center your block on top of your print paper. This is not an exact science since we do not have a press but you will be able to trim your print paper after the ink has dried. Last thing to consider—Carving a block and printing a straight print is only one way to finish the work. For some artists printing is the most exciting and more complex part of the process because they are free to arrange their prints in a variety of ways. Some artists cut prints apart and reassemble them like patchwork quilts. Others might create a background and print over the top or use their block to make multiple prints of layered or side by side images. Still other artist incorporate text in their prints, again, layering it or using it side by side with images. Finally, artist also arrange different images or parts of images on top of one another to create a multi layered image.
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