Beginners Guide to Lino Block Printing

Beginners Guide to Lino Block Printing

Jun 18, 2024

Lino printing, also known as linocut or block printing, is a printmaking technique in which a picture or drawing is carved into the surface of a linoleum block. Here's a detailed overview of the technique which is very rewarding for children:

1. Material: Linoleum or lino is the main material used, which is a smooth, flexible surface that's easier to carve than wood. It typically consists of a mixture of linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour, and other materials.

2. Design Prep: Start by drawing your design on tracing paper or paper, then transfer it to the lino by tracing or drawing directly onto the block.

3. Carving: Using a lino cutter, carve away the areas of the block that should remain white or unprinted. The areas that are left raised will be the parts of the design that receive ink and print onto the paper.  Lightly wipe over the carved lino with a damp methylated rag to ensure inks will take to the surface.

4. Inking: Once the carving is complete, ink is applied to the surface of the block using a lino roller. The ink covers the raised areas but does not go into the carved-out recesses.

5. Printing: The inked block is then pressed onto paper or fabric. This can be done by hand or a spoon to rub the back of the paper to transfer the ink.

6. Finishing up: After the ink has dried, the artwork is ready or can be painted further.  Wash the lino if reusing. 

Characteristics of Lino Printing:

Bold Lines and Shapes: Due to the nature of carving and printing, linocuts often feature strong, graphic lines and shapes.
Texture: The texture of the linoleum and the way the ink is applied can create a distinctive look and feel in the print.
Reproducibility: Linocut allows for multiple copies to be printed from the same block, making it popular for creating copies.

Lino printing became popular in the early 20th century, though the technique is a descendant of woodcut printing, which has been used for centuries. Notable artists like Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse experimented with and popularised lino printing.

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Lino Printing

Collection of paints and tools for lino printing