Print 1. Project 5: Learning to linocut

Lino sampler.

I took a 20x30cm lino piece, marked it into 5cm squares and explored my cutting tools.  I started by using one tool per section and progressed to mixing them to achieve more complex patterns.

Print1-P5-Blades1Pictured above are the 4 main tools which I own in duplicate in both a cheap set and a better quality set.  Clockwise from top left: 5mm curved ‘scoop’, 3mm curved ‘scoop’, 3mm V shape, 5mm V shape.

Print1-P5-Blades2Above left: 7mm angled flat blade, 7mm straight flat blade.  Above right: 1mm & 0.5mm curved scoops.

So all together, counting the duplicate sets, I have 12 cutting options.

Print1-P5-LinoThe tools used for each row and section are listed below from left to right.

Top row: 1) 5mm cheap curved scoop 2) 3mm cheap curved scoop 3) 3mm cheap curved scoop 4) 3mm V shape
Second row: 1) 3mm quality curved scoop 2) 5mm quality curved scoop 3) 5mm quality curved scoop 4) 5mm cheap V shape
Third row: 1) 3mm quality curved scoop 2) 1mm curved scoop 3) 5mm quality V shape 4) 5mm quality V shape
Fourth row: 1) 3mm quality V shape 2) 5mm quality curved scoop 3) 3mm quality curved scoop (deeply cut) 4) 0.5mm curved scoop
Fifth row: 1) 7mm flat blade gouging 2) 1mm curved scoop (outline shape) + 5mm quality curved scoop 3) 7mm flat blade (to cut triangle outlines) + 1mm curved scoop (to remove outlines) + 3mm quality curved scoop 4) 5mm quality V shape sharp stabs and gouging
Bottom row: 1) 1mm curved scoop (glass outline) + 0.5mm curved scoop (shadowing) + 3mm quality curved scoop 2) 3mm quality V shape + 7mm angled blade (outline circles) + 3mm quality curved scoop (remove inside of circles) 3) 5mm quality curved scoop 4) 1mm curved scoop

Print1-P5-Lino1Left: close-up of carved section.

The difference between the cheaper and more expensive tools was very noticeable and the cheaper set has been put away, only to be used in an emergency.  The most useful tools for my purposes so far have been the 3mm and 1mm curved scoops.  They were the easiest to use and gave me good results with a degree of precision.

All print samples below have been hand pressed using a baren across the back of the paper plus the palm of my hand and fingers where necessary.

Print1-P5-Image1Above left: 110gsm cartridge paper, first print and obviously without enough pressure. Right: 110gsm visual diary (cartridge) paper (a slight difference from the cartridge bought in pad form, not quite so smooth), better pressure.


Print1-P5-Image5Above left and close-up left: Very interesting! 300gsm smooth paper roughly coated with textural gesso strokes. This has created a very soft transfer with a huge amount of texture interference from the gesso.  I’d like to see this in a bigger version of the tree. Above right: Gyokuryu rice paper, the central section of the lino (edges were masked to avoid printing).

I then cleaned the lino and changed colour from blue/black to mid yellow + black to give me olive-green.  Unfortunately once the lino was clean and dry there was a small residue of oil left in some of the cut away areas and this bled through to the next prints.

Print1-P5-Image3Above left: 110gsm visual diary cartridge paper.  Right: regular smooth 110gsm cartridge paper using very light application of paint and pressure.

Having realised the oil error I re-cleaned and dried the lino ensuring there was no oil residue this time.

Print1-P5-Image4Above left: 110gsm visual diary cartridge paper, more pressure and better coverage.   Right: Brown wrapping paper.

The yellow used to colour mix is one I’ve written about before.  It is a different make to my others and isn’t as tacky/sticky, so making a good relief print is difficult as it doesn’t give even coverage and the roller can tend to leave marks in the paint.  I bought it because it is a warm yellow and there is only a lemon in my preferred range but it simply doesn’t do the job well enough.  Mixing with the tacky extender medium is better but for an overall full strength coverage it’s not good.


I’ve learned a lot about my tools, what each one can do, how far to push down into the lino, how to create patterns in both positive and negative, and how to add some textural effects both with the tools and other media.  It’s been really enjoyable and I’m ready to move towards creating a design – when I come back in a couple of weeks from a trip overseas.  Meantime, whilst travelling, I’ll contemplate some ideas and start sketching some possibilities and hopefully when I return I’ll have a concept ready to go.


About Claire B

I'm a passionate printmaker, paper-maker and a poor sketcher (which I'm working to improve). I've stitched from early childhood and am a perpetual student, loving learning and participating in everything creative.
This entry was posted in Print 1: Assignment 2, Printmaking 1 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Print 1. Project 5: Learning to linocut

  1. Pingback: Print 1. Assignment 2: First relief prints | TactualTextiles

  2. Great start Claire. I have the work in front of me now and the resolution and overall design with your green, turquoise ink works really well with the thicker paper. Very clean print.

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