View Full Version : Block Printing - April 2010

04-02-2010, 12:05 AM
Greetings and welcome to the April block printing project .
It's a big subject .....I'd like to keep this simple so
Here are some images for inspiration. Emil Nolde-family-1917; Wanda Gag-millions of cats (children's book); Unholy family - Picasso; art nouveau book plate; art nouveau landscapes (these last two are from Treasury of Art Nouveau-Dover book)

Here is a link about wood block printing history with a long list of artists you can check out.


04-02-2010, 12:16 AM
Here is a list of supplies and some photos of them.
carving medium -
golden linoleum
battleship grey
speedball speedy cut (white & pink)
mounted lino
glue for mounting
carving tools
sharpening stone
leather strap
ball pt pen
pencil - 6B
tracing paper
printing ink
spoon or baren
plate glass (for rolling out ink)
paper towels
vegetable oil
dish detergent

04-02-2010, 12:18 AM
Tommorrow I'll post some links on sharpening the tools and cleaning up the mess.
I'll also comment on inks and carving mediums.

Then we'll get started with our drawings and transfering them to the medium.
If you have any questions feel free to ask.

04-02-2010, 06:39 AM
Looking good Robin. I have plenty of linoleum, but need some new cutting tips.

Here I am adding my favorite wood block printmaker again.

His work is so extraordinary. I have tried to copy him, but he is way too advanced. Good to look at though. I like books like this,,,where the prints tell the story.

This should be a good project.....:heart:

04-02-2010, 01:12 PM
Aha, I recognise lots of those tools. I am raring to go. I have never done this before!!

04-02-2010, 01:16 PM
Hey Robin, your link has too many httpp's in it to work. Here's an update. Hope it works.



linocut page on wikipedia



04-02-2010, 01:17 PM
CUTTING TOOLS - I use the speedball set. It is not real expensive. The set with the tip replacement capability is nice. Do not, DO NOT be intimidated about sharpening. It does take some practice to become confident about it but you will. The tips are not expensive. Just be careful and don't place you hand where when you slip off the cutting medium it will be the target! You learn to avoid this quickly.

CUTTING MEDIUM - speedy cut is like cutting butter....is best to mounted. I've never used it UNmounted. It would be too floppy and prone to crack or crumble. I use it like a rubber stamp. You could ink it with a roller easily enough.
The gold linoleum - to me it crumbles too easily, it does not hold deep line cuts well - flakes.
The battleship grey is my favorite. It holds fine detail marks well and small ridges.
Do not get old cutting medium. It will be stiff, crumbly and unpleasant to work.

I like to use a hot pad to warm the battleship grey and gold linoleums. I set the piece face down on the pad with a towel over it for 20 minutes to warm it and then I flip it up and cut it while it is sitting on the hot pad. When I take a break, I turn it face down again to keep it warm.

INK - there are alot of inks out there. I am familiar with speedball water base and Daniel Smith waterbase and oilbase.
The speedball is cheap but very hard to get a fine image - with the little details clear. I started with it and only us it now( watered down a little on a sponge) with the speedy cut stamps like a rubber stamp arrangement.
If you are planning on doing printing more than this time I would invest in a tube of the Daniel Smith waterbase or oil base.

Here is a link on sharpening your tools-

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Articles2/36273/536/ (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/../Articles2/36273/536/)

Here is a good page on the Barenforum. Also check out their home page.


Here is an awesome lady who is able to clean up like I never have- check out the rest of her websight too.


I usually take saturday's off. I'll return Sunday with a brief talk about paper and have my drawing ready to begin transfering to the linoleum.

see you then

04-02-2010, 01:19 PM
thanks June.:)

Janet - you can probably fine some good tips on these links.:)

04-02-2010, 11:49 PM
Alright, I finally unearthed my set of X-acto knives after 3 days of night digging in my garage. Now, I just need to find something to cut. Thanks for all the links, Janet, Robin.

04-03-2010, 12:48 AM
I wouldn't mind trying my hand at this. But alas, around here artist's linoleum is scarcer than hen's teeth and when I finally managed to track some down it was so monstrously expensive I couldn't even consider it. Much cheaper would be wood; I could probably get useful scraps virtually free. But I ran into another problem: not a single one of the art supply shops I know of have even heard of the type of ink one needs for this sort of print, because I'm assuming Indian ink is not going to work. You need ink of a thick, oily sort of consistency. Perhaps one could simply use oil paint?

Incidentally, no woodblock printing project can be complete without mentioning the magnificent works in this medium by Albrecht Durer, some of which can be seen here:


and here:


04-04-2010, 11:38 AM
Ha, I complained too soon. Just a day after posting my bitter complaints about lack of art materials, I found an rt supply shop that does in fact stock a wide variety of things, including Chinese brushes (which I have also unsuccessfully looked for in the past) and printmaking supplies. Their artist's lino is still way too expensive for me though. I wonder if common old kitchen floor linoleum might work...

04-04-2010, 03:50 PM
Brian - glad you are joining the project. I like your sense of adventure! Using oil paints would probably work. I've used poster paints before. Maybe the tube watercolor or acrylic. Some use inks made for I am not acquainted with them yet. Wood and common kitchen linoleum is good. I've printed using foam meat packing trays- poking holes and lines with a pencil. The material mashes down after 2 or 3 pulls though.

Sandra - Good to have you along. Maybe your heritage will run strong here. The Orientals did marvelous printing work .

I've been sick today. Just now am feeling a little better so I will not be posting the drawing and transfer. I think I'll be able to get to it tommorrow though. But I did find these two good links - one on printing with foam. Brian works alot with school children. Those lucky kids!


And this HEAVY DUTY link on printmaking materials is the bomb!


04-05-2010, 01:00 AM
Brian - glad you are joining the project. I like your sense of adventure! Using oil paints would probably work. I've used poster paints before. Maybe the tube watercolor or acrylic. Some use inks made for I am not acquainted with them yet. Wood and common kitchen linoleum is good. I've printed using foam meat packing trays- poking holes and lines with a pencil. The material mashes down after 2 or 3 pulls though.

Well, if I have time I'll experiment a bit and see what happens. Real linocut ink is not too expensive, and I like its sticky consistency and the very black tones you get from it. I'll make a little tour of local hardware shops to see what I can get in the way of scrap pieces of wood or linoleum. I once got hold of scraps of hardboard, at a lower price than what I would normally pay for cartridge paper, and they were perfectly good for oil painting.

Have you ever actually used kitchen linoleum for linocuts?

I don't mind if the material doesn't survive many prints, because it is not likely that I will be selling any of it anyway. I won't need more than a few prints. I will need to work with materials that one does not need a printing press for though, because I don't own one and cannot afford one either. A pity, because I would have loved to try out proper etching, but I guess one has to make the best of what is available.

04-05-2010, 08:33 PM
Brian - yep, that's the spirit - just make the best of it...:)

Today I got the sketch done and transfered it to the linoleum. I've selected a painting by Caravaggio the Card Sharps to study.
Here's my sketch
traced it
coated the FRONT - the right side with graphite using a 6Bpencil
then laid the graphite coated side down and went over the forms with a ball point pen laying the lines onto the graphite carbon copy style. REMEMBER that your image will be turned left to right when you print it if you do not put down the backward image on the linoleum.

04-05-2010, 08:36 PM
Then I went over the graphite lines with a marker. Beware - last time I used a Sharpie for this and when I printed using white the lines that hadn't been cut away printed out thru the printing ink. If you are using black ink this won't matter. (this is 4" X 5 1/4")

Now I'm all ready to begin cutting. Hey!! I'm having fun!!! Hows about you?

04-06-2010, 02:56 AM
That looks marvellous Robin. I need to catch up on some of the links.

I then hope to do some practise with cutting my 'soft cut' lino. I have a set of interchangeable tools. I hope to do something simple first. See you later.

04-06-2010, 03:42 AM
June, it is so hard to cut. I did one tonight and pieces keep falling off. :lol:

I carved up some foam markers to do block printing. Here's a Japanese Kabuki character that Toshusai Sharaku did in woodblock prints. Sharaku (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharaku) himself was an actor and his career lasted only 10 months.

Art Advantage Gouache, black, violet
Academie Heavyweight Sketchbook 80 lbs 8.5 x 11 inch (half page)


I added to the eye with brush afterwards.


04-06-2010, 03:02 PM
These look really effective, Sandra. I haven't done any yet! It may take me til the end of the month......

04-06-2010, 09:42 PM
Hi June - I think you'll like the soft medium cutting experience. Are you going to mount it?

Sandra - dramatic print, I like it very much. I'm glad you perservered until you found something that worked.

I didn't get any time for art today.

04-07-2010, 03:20 PM
Here's my shot at white line printmaking. I still have the block and may try again with better inks. Link is about this technique.


I did fill in the eyes and eyebrows.

04-07-2010, 08:03 PM
Hehe, I wonder how many of us cheat on the eyes and eyebrows. Unless the piece is huge, doing facial features is a challenge. Good one there Janet. Did you really follow that person's method and inked five times? I inked everything at one go and print in one go.

I suppose if there is a market for these prints, then it is worth the while assuming people like mass market prints. Otherwise drawing is so much faster.

04-07-2010, 08:28 PM
Hi, Sandra. I did a register and made about 12 prints, but I did all the blues, then all the yellows etc. I did have to add paint each time. The demo looks like they are starting from the top and doing each white line space at a time. OK if you are only doing one print.

Here is an artist who really did the White Line printmaking well: Blanche Lazzell


04-08-2010, 02:54 AM
I love your lady reading, Janet. I must have a look at that link later...

04-09-2010, 07:30 AM
June - really sweet. I'm not up on that technique. Looks like fun .

Janet - thanks for that link too.... learning alot of cool stuff here

Didn't get to cut yesterday. Got home after work and the power went out!
I gotta scoot and wash the pile of dishes and get to work.

04-09-2010, 10:37 AM
I was trying to to a foam print (meat tray styrofoam) and from bad, it got to worse when I tried to print it. Gouache didn't go on as it did on foam markers. Mixable oil paint didn't work. Bombay ink didn't work. All that cutting was wasted. So I just painted on it.


04-09-2010, 11:36 AM
Sandra, what a strange effect. I like it.

Here are a couple I did about a year ago, water based ink on lino. Hope to get a couple of new ones done soon. I have a little arthritis in my hands, but think I could manage the soft cut material.

This print was inspired by a German artist, but I can't remember which one:


and here is "Woman with Breast" :)


04-10-2010, 08:07 PM
Sandra - that is neat, I wonder how it would have printed? This looks like a photo of the foam?

Janet - Sorry about the arthritis, that is painful stuff. Very nice work. You handle the big blocks of dark well ....sense of balance appears to be second nature to you. nice

04-10-2010, 11:08 PM
Janet, good prints. I like the woman with the breast. I assume the first one is in the dance hall. Hope your arthritis will go away soon as warm weather comes.

Robin, I didn't manage to get the paint to stick so when I pressed it on paper, it didn't print much. So yes, this is just a photo of my engraved foam unfortunately. One step is missing.

04-13-2010, 08:48 PM
How's it coming along, ya'll? I did get a little cutting done last night .

04-14-2010, 09:52 AM

A sketch I did last year from a photo on wetcanvas. It may have nbeen in the WDE, can't remember.

I thought it looked simple enough to try my lino cutting.


This is the linocut, a you can see. I rather enjoyed my first attempt...but probably there are things that could be better.

I usually have a messy studio...now its a shambles...with bits of lino scrapings everywhere. ink everywhere.

But I had a 'ball'.:wave:

04-14-2010, 09:55 AM
Sandra, I like the textures in the styrofoam.

Janet, I really like the few white areas that describe the couple in the background of the dance hall scene perfectly.

I must admit, I got a bit lost as to where to have lines etc...but now I've done one, I look forward to doing another.

04-14-2010, 02:06 PM
June - Great firstie!!!!! and it was a good experience which is even better- the initial confusion is dispelled mostly I hope......at least for the time being! I like how you left some cutting marks. I never know about that stuff.:cat:

04-14-2010, 03:26 PM
Hi Robin. MMMmmm....before I tried this.... the process seemed shrouded in mystery to me. I am really glad to have tried it out.

04-15-2010, 09:09 AM

'A cat and mouse game'.

I did this small linocut this morning. Its the cat from the WDE this week. I need to put more ink on the background next time... it came out a bit patchy in this first pull.

I left the cat as black and white here, although she is really a tricolour.

See ya!

04-15-2010, 02:13 PM
Boy, June, you sure learn fast. You must have an eye for block printing. Wonderful cat and the mouse is just perfect.:clap:

04-15-2010, 04:47 PM
yeah, What Janet said! That is a great print June. Look at the way that cat is checkin' that mouse out!

You all interested in swapping prints?

04-16-2010, 02:25 AM
Swapping prints sounds like a good idea.

04-17-2010, 12:00 AM
June, great lines. It's almost like the lithographs from old days.

04-17-2010, 03:21 AM
I have heard of lithographs and I wish I knew more about the various other printing techniques. But I think you need special printing presses and so on for these other kinds of printing.

Has anyone ventured into more specialized printing techniques?

04-17-2010, 08:51 AM
My father used big, heavy stones for his litho work. When he died I found about three of them with the image still on. I didn't want to put them out in the garbage, so I buried them. Nice surprise for someone, someday :lol:
Later I found out that they could be ground down and used again, and were very expensive. Some art school could have used them, but with everything else I never even thought of it.

There was also a big litho press in the basement for years. He finally sold that.

Now they have simpler methods...would be fun to try. :heart:

04-17-2010, 08:40 PM
Yeah, we could swap. I'd be glad to do it. Who ever wants to swap leave a comment in this thread. You can send your copies to me with a SASE and I'll divide them up and mail them back! Size limit?

I printed mine yesterday. Must wait for to dry before scanning .

Lithography yields alot of fine detail possibility but the chemicals is repugnat to me.

04-18-2010, 08:50 AM
Don't know if I will get to making a new print for swap, but will try. If I can't manage it, would it be ok if I printed up an oldie?

Here are two from last Christmas:



Anyway I'll get the tools out and try for a newbie :heart:

04-19-2010, 01:26 PM
Janet - sure thing, that'd be fine :heart: Looks like there won't be many to make.

04-19-2010, 01:56 PM
I've only got the cat and mouse one so far. But I will swap with you...maybe since I am in UK you can pm me your address if you want to swap with me.

04-19-2010, 03:40 PM
Maybe we can wait until near the end of the month for the swap and see what turns up :heart:

04-20-2010, 08:27 PM
Okay, we'll wait till the end of the month. Looks like it will just be we 3 so far.

Here's mine after Caravaggio's Card Sharps -

04-21-2010, 10:54 AM
Really good, Robin. Nice blacks. Yes, nobody, other than we three seems to have jumped on the band-wagon here, and I'm hampered with my arthritis. Hope that doesn't mean an end to block printing for me. Maybe just doing a little a day. I can paint and draw with no problem, thank goodness.

If I can't get a new one done...just let me know which one you'd like and I'll ink it up. Want to print a few of the girl reading with water soluable oils and see how that comes out, too. :heart: :heart: :heart:

04-21-2010, 02:52 PM
thanks, Janet. What ever you are in to print is fine.

Here is what I do as I'm cutting to gauge my progress - Its crayon rubbings on tracing paper - kinda obsure but it helps as I go along....Here you can see my stumbling process with the fingers......I was aftraid I'd really muffed it for a bit...but they may not be anatomically accurate but at least you can tell they are fingers! What do you do to see your work as you're cutting?

04-28-2010, 11:51 AM
All very nice work thus far! Alas, doesn't look like I'll have time for this project. But I guess we can always return to it at some later date.