Getting started with Lino.

All you need to know to have a go at Lino printing.

For my first blog, I thought I would start with a quick ‘how to’ for Lino printing. If you want to have a go at Lino printing then you will need a piece of Lino and a set of Lino cutters, which can be bought from most art stores. You will also need some poster paint and a rolling pin.

The Lino: These days you can buy many different types of Lino such as easy cut or Lino with a smother surface. Despite this, I prefer to use ordinary brown linoleum tiles – they just work best for me. I buy tiles in bulk A0, but you can buy them singularly in smaller sizes. A good place to get them from is Great Art.

The Cutting Tools: I have six long blade chisels, but at £30 each, I would suggest that you buy an Abig set and some extra handles. Later on you can upgrade the cutting tools you use the most. Abig tools can be bought from Great Art and for individual tools I would recommend Lawrence.

My cutters.

Rollers: To apply the paint, all you really need is one good quality roller (the larger the diameter the better). For the paint find a bathroom tile or a piece of toughened glass  (something that does not shatter).

Roller and paint.

The Ink: I use a per gram traditional relief ink by Gerstaecker, which requires a thinning agent such as Linseed oil. You can get some reasonable water based inks as well, but I prefer the finish and colour that oil gives. Remember when using water based inks that the ink will appear darker when it dries.

Paper: I use a Chinese cotton paper when I print, but any good quality paper will work well, just try and avoid anything with textured or a shinny surface.

Chinese paper.

The Press: You do not need an expensive press, it is a huge investment and you should only buy one if you know that you are going to use it. Saying that, I love my press and getting it made a huge difference to my work. I can now do things that I just couldn’t when using rollers to print. For a beginner printing single layered images a rolling pin is all you need. If you do decide to get yourself a table top press, then my best piece of advice is to really get to know your press. Spend as much time as you can working out exactly how your press reacts to different situations. The better you know you press, the better you can make it work for you. As an example, my press has a very slight inequality from left to right, so I have to tighten the right side 1/4 inch further than the left.

My press.

Tips: The most common mistake when Lino printing is forgetting to reverse your image. This is particularly important with words. Anything you cut in to the lino will come out as a mirror image when you print. If you are not sure, draw the image as you want it to appear on tracing paper and then turn it over to see the cuts you need to make.

Print and lino.

The only other thing I would suggest is to find a space you can completely devote to your art. Somewhere you can get messy, somewhere without any distractions – phone, internet, TV. It does not have to be big space. I work in a garden shed!

My shed.

Prints in progress


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