Block printing is a method of creating an individual hand carved design which can be printed onto a number of different surfaces. When learning to block print, select a design that will be relatively easy to carve. Silhouettes and simple shapes are very effective when block printed. If you are using any lettering it will need to be carved backwards to print in the correct direction.
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Linoleum, or "lino," is the medium in which your design will be carved to make a block print. Transfer or draw your design on to the lino surface and then carve out the areas of the lino that you do not want to be printed. Linoleum is available in varying harnesses. Harder lino withstands heavy printing use better than softer lino. Softer lino is easier to carve than harder lino, but will begin to show signs of wear and tear more quickly when used for a significant amount of printing. You can also soften lino before carving by using a heat pad.
Lino cutters are used to gouge away the areas of the lino that you do not want to print. Lino cutters come in a range of sizes. Use the smaller lino cutters to carve out the finer details of your design, and larger cutters to remove larger background areas. Hold the lino cutters so that the blade skims along the surface of the lino. To make an effective block print you will only need carve 1/8 of an inch deep in the areas you don't want to print.
Select a type of ink that is appropriate to the type of surface you wish to print on. For example, if you are printing on fabric you will need a fabric ink, if you are printing on paper you will need a paper printing ink. For a surface which is more difficult for ink to adhere to, such as glass, wood or metal you will need a gloss emulsion ink. The correct ink should be applied to the areas of the lino cut image that you want to print.
Brayer and Palette
Use the brayer to roll out the ink on the palette until it has a thin, rough looking consistency. If you do not have a palette you could use an acetate sheet. The whole of the roller on the brayer should have a thin covering of ink. Roll the ink covered brayer across the top of the lino print to ink up the design. Place your printing surface, for example, paper, on top of the block and use a second clean brayer to roll over the back of the surface. Pull the paper away from the lino block to reveal the print.
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