First steps in Reduction Lino Printing

I cut my 30 x 30cm lino square into 3 pieces, 2 small ones to practice on and a larger piece for a proper design.

I used the first small piece to learn how the tools work and here I came across my first issue.  Two brands of tools were recommended but I already had a set, unbranded but identical to one of the recommended brands.  A couple of us, myself included, found cutting the lino extremely difficult and it was discovered that this recommended brand had two sets in their range, the expensive and the cheap sets.  Guess which we had?  So off we went and bought the better quality set.


First carving

What a difference.  There are only 4 tools in the new set and they are mid range sizes so I’ll probably need to buy a couple of finer tipped carvers if I want to try more refined cutting.

I initially found it hard to visualise that what is cut away will not print.  Quite logical on the first carving but more difficult to assess on the following ones as more and more of the lino is removed so that layers of colour can be worked on top of each other.  Not only do you have to be aware of what will show through from the first print but also what effect colours will have on each other as they over-print.


Second carving

Obviously I shouldn’t have started with black and then tried to overprint with a lighter colour but black was what the tutor gave us as a start point and, knowing no better, that is what we used.  So I produced several plain black prints before cutting more of the lino away as per the picture to the right.


Second layer of print

The strongest colour available was red so that was applied over the initial black layer.  I then rotated the lino 180° for the next trial.


Rotated second layer

That looks pretty interesting.

Time to cut more lino away.


Third carving

Some big mistakes here.  It looks like I didn’t carve it deeply enough in some places so I have some linear interference in areas which should be completely clean.

Yes, the problem was partially with my carving but, more importantly, it was because I completely cut away two corners and a large part of the surround.  So when the ink was rolled across the lino there was no edging to stop it sinking into the lower sections of the design.


Final print

Oops, big lesson learned!  You’d think the tutor would point that out to the novices.

Anyway, I won’t do that again and nothing has been lost as it was only a small trial piece.

Here we have the final (third carving) applied over the black first carving.  I start to get the idea and am ready to move on to my second small trial lino section.  I’ll start by sketching and colouring the design on paper.  That way I’ll have a bit more understanding of what to cut at which stage – remembering to keep corners and edging more solid.



About Claire B

I am a passionate printmaker, paper maker and book artist. I'm a 'forever' student and frequently attend courses and workshops to extend and improve my creative skills.
This entry was posted in My Creative Pieces, Workshops & Classes and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to First steps in Reduction Lino Printing

  1. fibresofbeing says:

    I hadn’t heard of this technique before but I love it.
    It could do your head in though until you get used to it. Reminds me in a way of batik where you have to work from light to dark and save areas with wax.

    • Claire B says:

      It was surprisingly difficult to get my head around until I had done this first trial piece. Now I understand a bit more I’ll do another small sample before moving to a larger more detailed piece.
      Yes, Judy, very similar to batik as you have to plan what you want to see and what colours will sit on top of others creating (or not) other colour effects.

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