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Linocut printmaking: what materials to get started?

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

If you would like to create your first print, here are my tips and tricks to help you have fun without breaking the bank…


You would like to try linocut printmaking or you have attended a workshop and wish to continue printmaking... Or you would like to make a present and gift a printmaking kit to someone you know... What do you need to collect? Where can you find the materials? Follow the guide!


Where can you buy linocut printmaking material that cannot be found?


You will find some materials at home. However, to get started, you need to buy a little equipement:

  • A pencil

  • A sheet of tracing paper

  • A lino block or another type of carving block

  • A gouge

  • A tube of printing ink

  • A sheet of plastic to roll the ink

  • A roller

  • Some (smooth) paper


Check out second-hand shops or sales sites, or find this equipment in specialised arts shops or online art shops. All of them also offer good, inexpensive starter kits.




In detail, what to bring together?


Drawing inspiration

  • A piece of paper

  • A pencil (a simple HB or a 2B if you have some to hand)

  • Optional: tracing paper

  • Optional: a photo, an illustration


Do you have a project? You can draw whatever comes to mind or choose a photo to inspire you... You can also make an abstract sketch... be confident, carving and printing will magnify your drawing.


Carving


  • A block of linoleum or an alternative medium: soft cut, vinyl, potato, etc.

  • A gouge or a handle and gouge points with different profiles


Different kinds of gouges


Transfer your design onto your engraving surface.


Use tracing paper to mirror it (the print reverses the carved motif).


Using the gouge(s), remove the areas that should remain white once the design has been printed.






Printing without a press


  • A tube of printmaking ink

  • A roller

  • A glass plate or a smooth surface (recycled plate, Plexiglas, thick sheet of plastic) to spread and roll out the ink

  • Paper, preferably smooth

  • A spoon (usually wooden) or a smooth, heavy object to press the paper onto the engraved surface

  • Optional: a painting knife to work the ink

  • To clean: sponge, soap, cloth



Use ink for relief printmaking: paint is too liquid and is not suited to the printing technique. Choose a water-based ink to start with (there are water-based inks that dry on contact in 15 minutes and oil-based inks that can take several days to dry).


Buy a linocut roller. The roller enables the ink to be applied to the engraved lino in a very thin layer.


Choose paper, preferably smooth. You can print on recycled paper, pages from books destined for recycling, drawings that have gone wrong, etc.


Take a wooden spoon or something that will allow you to press down hard on your engraved surface and ink it on the paper. I like to use a doorstop.


To dry


A place to put your linocuts or a line and clothes pegs to hang them while they dry.





Enjoy your printmaking journey!

Printing a child's drawing of astronauts in blue


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