Pen and Ink in Ludlow 

This week I am away visiting my family in Ludlow and enjoying the sunshine. The sun inspired me to get outside with my sketch book and pen to do a few sketches.  

The house as viewed from the garden. 5 min pen drawing.


Small corner of Ludlow Castle. 5 min pen drawing.

Flower in the garden. 5 min pen drawing with ink pencils and water.

Horthorn by the fence. 10 min ink pencils with water sketch.

First flight of the butterfly 

Now that I have done the etchings, I am ready to go back to the lino butterfly I was cutting out.  I finished cutting out the wings and started on the first print.  Since I can’t seem to get enough of yellow things at the moment, I decided on a yellow background for the wings. I mixed white, yellow and a little bit of magenta to make a warm pastel yellow ink. I added a touch of linseed oil. I use the oil to thin the paint, and it also acts as a drying agent, speeding the process up a bit.

After rolling out some of the ink onto a glass plate, I used a large diameter roller to transfer the ink evenly to my cut lino.

After placing the lino ink side down on the paper, I marked the four corners of the paper with pencil — this makes it easier to line the lino plate up accurately when it comes to printing the subsequent layers.

Then everything goes through the press.

With lino there is no going back — once I start to cut into the wings I won’t be able to print the yellow layer again. I decided on a 12 print run (assuming they all work). Still no drying line, so they are on the table for now.

Impatient printer

Impatient printer

I know I said in the last post that I would wait until I had put up drying lines before printing, but that isn’t going to happen for a while and I decided I couldn’t wait!

When printing a dry point etching, the first thing I do is prepare the ink. My choice of ink is oil based printers ink mixed with Vaseline (yes the stuff used for dry lips). Using the side of a spatula, I spread a small amount of the ink mix over the top of the etching plate, covering all the etched areas.

I then use gauze to push the ink into the lines and remove excess ink from the plate. Finally, I take tissue paper to clean the plate leaving a clean etching plate with scratched lines filled with ink.

To print, you have to use wet paper. I typically place the paper into water and then dry it off between two tea towels. I used blotting paper this time, but a much heavier weight paper works better. (I have some on order). I’m not convinced the blotting paper works as well as it could — but it is great for lino printing.

The last step is running the paper-etch sandwich through a tight printing press.


Wingless butterfly and a moth

I haven’t got as far as printing yet, but I have etched out a few more butterfly designs. I’m not sure why the butterflies only get one wing – flying for them would not be easy!



A moth has also joined the etching party. He is allowed two wings!



Although I now have a lovely studio, I haven’t yet worked out where to hang and dry my prints. Once that problem is sorted the printing can start!

Etching and Scratching

When I am not sure how to proceed with a print, I sometimes take a sideways step and do an etching. 

You might remember that I recently started on a butterfly print. I went back to this today, but couldn’t decide on which parts to cut out next. So I started on an etching to clarify my mind. 

This is the etching plate.  I use plastic sheets and a hand etching tool to scrape away the image.