Here are some of the questions that I get asked most frequently. I hope this list provides some insight to my craft, but if you cannot find the answer to your question here, you can post your question in the comments section below!
What is linocut?
Linocut printmaking is a printmaking technique in which the artist carves a design in to a block of linoleum (lino), and uses it as a stamp to create multiple impressions of the same design. Because the entire process is done by hand, these impressions, called “linocuts”, all carry their own unique characteristics, and are considered to be original pieces of art.
What tools are needed for making linocuts, and where can I buy them?
The most important tools and materials that you’ll need are the linoleum, carving tools, ink, ink roller/brayer, paper, and a baren (a spoon will also work) or a press for transferring the image from the block to paper. You can find a list of my tools and equipment on the Materials page. You'll also find links to some retailers on that same page.
How do you get such even ink on your prints?
This is probably the most difficult and most frustrating part of printmaking, and it’s something that all printmakers run into from time to time. The things that have helped me the most are:
- using thin paper with little or no texture
- using good quality oil-based ink
- applying enough ink on the plate
- using oil-based inks instead of water-based ones
- using enough pressure for the printing
- lightly sanding the linoleum with fine sand paper prior to carving
Do you use oil or water-based inks?
I use only oil-based inks. They look better, last longer, and are water-resistant.
How do you transfer you designs to lino?
Depending on the project, I might use carbon paper, inkjet transfer (watch my YouTube video to see how it’s done), or draw directly on the lino with pencil and markers.
How do I get such fine lines and details?
I use very small and very sharp tools. My smallest tool is only 0.5 mm wide U shaped Pfeil linocut tool.
How do you sharpen your tools?
I hone my tools very frequently - usually every 30 minutes of carving - with a product called "SlipStrop" from Flexcut. You'll find more information about it from the Materials page.
Any cutting tips for beginners?
To get a hang of how the tools work, I recommend sacrificing a piece of lino just to test your tools first. Try the different V and U shape tools to see how they work for straight or curvy lines, how to make deep and shallow cuts, and how to make fine lines and clear large areas.
Always cut away from your hands and body to avoid accidentally cutting yourself! I use a non-slip matting from hardware store to keep my lino in place, but you can also use a bench hook.
Keep in mind that the areas that you cut away will not be printed, and the areas that are left, will take the ink. Pay attention to where you cut because it’s easy to get carried away and cut out wrong areas.
Lastly, keep your tools sharp. Although sharp tools might sound more intimidating, they are actually less likely to slip.