Sunday, December 7, 2014

Linocut experiments: It worked! Eventually.

The stars finally aligned this afternoon and I was able to tackle the printing of the 18 x 24 sheet of lino full of small bird images.

For this first large-scale printing I intended to print single color (black) and later hand-color these little critters, so out came the watercolor paper. And, hm... out came some problems.

I had suspected that my earlier efforts to recalibrate the press had not gone quite right, and the first print attempt made that abundantly clear:

Hmmm. That just ain't right!

Nope, that's not a trick of the light. That's a good impression in the upper right corner and a lousy one in the lower left. In this photo the leading (into the press rollers) edge is on the right, so clearly the roller isn't balanced. What I don't understand is the image also getting lighter towards the left (trailing) edge. Hm.

I messed around with the press adjustments and found what I thought would be a good balance. The second impression was more even, but still too light to satisfy me. I'm printing on Arches 140# cold press watercolor paper, so it has a fairly pronounced tooth, but I want a nice, solid black line. (Without cranking down the pressure enough to cause embossing.)

It seemed like dampening the paper might be the way to go, but I don't really have a set-up for working with wet paper. I've no good way to ensure even wetting... no blotters on hand...not even a spray bottle or fresh sponge! Oh well! I soaked some shop towels and gently wiped one side of the paper as evenly as I could.

(Ah, the smell of Arches watercolor paper. Snark. Could they make the sizing any stinkier? But I digress. )

 But a little water was definitely what was needed, because...success!

Embiggenable with a click...

In just about an hour and a half I had... let's see... 18 times 9... 162 little linocuts. Of course I have more to print, and I still have to paint them, and trim them, but, hey! Pretty darned exciting, if I do say so myself.


  1. Beautiful! Glad you worked out the problem - yes Arches is so stinky!! Will enjoy seeing these in color :)

  2. I like how your share your trials and errors and your reasoning with us beginners. Thank you and congratulation for this multiple print !
    So now you have to paint 162 pictures...

  3. Great print! Wish I had your press and the problems.... ;-)
    I soak my paper in a large tray but only the even ones (every other). Then I put a plastic bag down on a table and stack them dry, wet, dry etc. till they are all stacked. Then I cover them with another bag to protect. I do this before going to bed and print in the morning or do it in the morning and print in the late afternoon.

    The paper comes out damp and perfect to print. I use Arches cover stock (100% rag)


Linocut in Progress: All the little ending bits

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