Tuesday, January 22, 2008

my first block print

i went to a short but fun lino-block printing workshop this weekend and i am definitely addicted. we really only had time to cut out one simple design, mine is a 5"x7" block, and make a couple prints. i have never done any kind of printing like this before, involving printing inks and brayers etc... it's really fun thinking backwards about the image, it prints out the reverse of what you carve and unlike drawing or painting, the lines you make by taking away the surface are what does not print.
this is the actual linoleum block that i carved. it has been colored with a red permanent marker and a print was made on it before i took the picture.

anyone can go to an art supply store and get a linoleum block, some black printing ink, a basic carving set and some paper and do this at home. it's really pretty self explanatory although i like to be able to watch someone do it and ask questions etc... i will share a couple of unexpected things i learned to make the whole process a little easier. first, the instructor had us cover the linoleum block with a red permanent marker so that as you are carving away material from the surface of the block it is easier to see the contrast between the red and the color of the block. you can still tell what you are cutting away without coloring the surface but it's alot harder to see. the trick is that you have to use a truly permanent marker so that the color does not mingle with the ink you will roll on later. a second tip was to take a regular clothes iron and use it to heat up the surface of the block so that it is softer and easier to cut. you need to put a piece of cloth on top of the block to iron on or else you can melt the linoleum. the iron can be set on a medium temperature and you just iron until the fabric on top of your block is very warm to the touch. you can go back and keep doing this as it cools off. i'm not going to go thru the whole process but these were a couple things i woudn't have known to do by myself.
here are just a couple close-ups of the block after i had made an initial black print and then washed the block off. you can see the black stains in the crevices.
and here was my first print--this has a name and i forgot what it is called. basically you do a testing print to see if your lines are coming out like you thought they would, then you can go back in a carve anything out more if you need to.

this is my second print which was fun using a "rainbow roll" (that reminds me of sushi), where you put down a couple colors on your "pallette" and they mingle together giving that nice gradation. this one was made with red, orange and yellow. i didn't do a great job burnishing it though-there are alot of white blotches where the paper is showing through.


Unknown said...

Ooo, now that looks like fun! I can't believe that is your first one! Cool!

kate said...

You've done really well with this. It looks like fun!

If you have time, check out Celia's block prints at purplepoddedpeas.blogspot.com.

jr said...

yeeaaa! awesome! i feel dumb cuz i ALWAYS forget about the ironing trick. i have carved so many blocks now and have never done that once. me dummy. glad to hear you had fun in this medium!

Linda O'Neill said...

Nice job, Laura! Printmaking IS totally addicting. I used to make monotypes and etchings in school and I miss having a press around. I may have to try a block print now!

Critical Mass 11:11 said...

Yes, they are awesome...I got to see them in person today! They remind me of her ink washes which I greatly admire (given the fact that I own 5 of them). Looking forward to seeing all your new creations with this great medium :)

Nancy said...

You have a lovely site. I'm looking forward to seeing more of your artwork!