I had this Xcut Xpress dye cutting and embossing machine on my Christmas list, but they had proved so popular that the local Hobbycraft store had sold out. Finally, last month they were back in stock and I was lucky enough to get the last one in store. Its intended use is for card crafters, but it has become sought after by printmakers looking for a small, portable printing press.
I normally hand print my lino cuts, but thought this would be handy for multiple runs and for collagraphs which I would like to have a go at.
The best demonstration of this little machine's use can be found on Colin Blanchard's blog http://http://www.colinblanchard.com/blog
- he gives detailed information about his printing experiments (starting way back in January 2017) and has produced a 3 part video to accompany his comments (see his 26 Dec 2017 entry). I found his instructions and comments invaluable as the press itself only comes with instructions for die-cutting and embossing using store-bought dies - nothing about printing.
The machine comes with three plates - a thick base plate (which is the one to use for printing), a cutting pad (when die cutting paper and card ) and a metal plate (when die cutting fabric).
For my trial run I started with Daler Rowney black block printing ink - this is water soluble and I don't often use it on its own as I often work over my prints with watercolour or acrylics. Halfway through my trial prints I added white Golden Open acrylic and this seemed to work OK. On this occasion I didn't bother to set up any registration system, I was just itching to see how it would work.
I haven't yet got a felt blanket, but improvised with a sheet of craft foam. I made about about 20 prints using masa paper, book pages and pre-painted cartridge paper - it was surprisingly easy and they all came out very well (any imperfections are entirely due to my inking up process which definitely needs fine-tuning).
The Xcut open and ready for use.
Base plate plus a sandwich of inked lino block, book page, tissue and foam
(obviously to be lined up before printing)
In the closed position and portable (weighs about 14 lbs)