To make a lino print, you'll need:
- A few pieces of lino (Buy Direct)
- Lino cutting tools (Buy Direct)
- Paper (Buy Direct)
- Printing ink (Buy Direct: Water-based Ink or Oil-Based Ink)
- Smooth surface for rolling out ink
(Buy Direct: Inking Plate or Glass Palette)
- Palette knife (Buy Direct)
- A brayer (Buy Direct)
- A baren (or anything smooth you can use to apply pressure, such as a wooden spoon or another, clean brayer) (Buy Direct)
- Buy Direct: Starter Block Printing Kit
- Optional: A Printing Press (Buy Direct: Artist's Printing Press or Small Hand Press)
- Optional: Drying Rack (Buy Direct: Buy Direct)
- Optional: If you hands aren't up to cutting lino with a blade, try using a Dremel (Buy Direct)
The Lino-Printing Process: Once you've cut your design into the piece of lino (creating the printing plate), you spread a thin layer of ink evenly across the lino (inking up), lay a sheet of paper over it, and apply pressure to transfer the ink to the paper (printing).
When it comes to choosing paper, it's worth trying all sorts. If it's too thin it'll buckle, but will remain useful for doing test prints. Smooth paper gives a more even print, but textured paper can produce intriguing results.
Printing ink is stickier than paint, and benefits from being manipulated with a palette knife or rolled back and forth a bit before you start using it. It's one of those things you learn by doing, to get a feel for the ink. Don't only look at it; listen to the noise it makes under the roller too. You can use oil paint if you're not going to do much printing, but the results aren't as good as with oil-based inks. Acrylic paint will need either a block-printing medium or retarder added to it otherwise you won't have a long enough working time.
Using a brayer to ink up smoothly, without ripples or lines in the ink, is far easier than using a brush. If you're using a foam roller, watch out for it adding unwanted texture into the ink. Every now and then, scrape up the ink with the palette knife, back to the center.
If you've got access to a printing press, then definitely use it as it's easier and faster! But it's not essential to have a press as as you can get a good linoprint with hand pressure. Apply pressure to the back of the paper in smooth, circular movements across the whole area. To check if it's been sufficient, hold down one corner and carefully lift up a corner to see. Again, practice will give you a feel for it.
Next: Single-Color Lino Prints