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What a relief – a blog about lino cutting!

Last weekend I did a lino cutting workshop at Northfleet Central, Northfleet Big Local’s community centre http://www.northfleetbiglocal.com/  After a short demonstration, everyone got going and produced some amazing work – see the slideshow below. Thanks to Mandy Wooding and Mandi Knight for the photographs.

Don’t worry if you missed the workshop, I’ll be running another one at St Andrew’s Arts Centre on August 11th, 11am until 5pm-ish. Tickets are £10, including materials. Proceeds will go to the Cafe 84 Community Christmas Dinner fund. https://duncangrantartist.com/2019/04/07/only-261-more-days-until-christmas-time-to-think-about-lunch/ If you want to come to the workshop, please let me know as soon as possible, as places are limited. More information here: https://duncangrantartist.com/event/lino-printing-workshop/

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Lino cutting is a type of relief printing. It developed from wood cutting, which was the main way of illustrating books before hot metal etching plates were used.

Lino (linoleum) was invented and used as a floor covering in 1863. It’s a natural product made from solidified linseed oil, pine rosin, ground cork dust, sawdust, and chalk. The name was coined by Frederick Walton who combined the Latin word for flax, ‘linum’ with the Latin word for oil, ‘oleum’.

The lino cutting technique wasn’t really used by artists until the 1900s. Some of the first examples of lino printing as art came from artists in Die Brücke, Germany, where the technique had previously been used for printing wallpaper. In 1911, ‘linoleum art’ by Vojtěch Preissig made its first appearance in a gallery in New York City.

When Picasso and Matisse used lino cutting in their work, it became an established professional print medium.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lino cutting technique is quite simple. I start by cutting my lino squares. Because it is a natural material, if it is cold, lino can be brittle and break. So I work with two pieces at once. I sit on one to warm it up while I work with the other.

Lino is a great medium for printing because, once it is warm, it is soft, pliable and easy to cut. Also, unlike wood, it doesn’t have a grain so you can cut in all directions equally easily. Before you start to cut, sand the lino gently with a fine grade sandpaper. This helps the ink to stick and makes it easier to get a consistent result when you print.

In the UK , lino was made in Kirkcaldy, Scotland by the Nairn family. It is still used as flooring in hospitals and prisons because it is so durable and hardwearing, but it has been largely superseded in by vinyl and laminate flooring for domestic use. This means it is now quite difficult to get off-cuts to use for artwork, although there is still a major lino stockist in East London. You can, however, buy alternatives to lino in art shops. So, for example, children often learn relief printing using ‘dry point’ on thin polystyrene tiles.

Anyway, once you have your lino ready, you cut your design with sharp V- or U-shaped tools. Be careful, lino cutting is a blood sport! Remember, the uncut (raised) areas are a reverse of the image you want to print.

Next you spread a thin layer of ink on a glass plate. I use a glass chopping board from Lidl. Then, you ink up your carved lino with a roller, called a brayer, and then place it on to a sheet of paper, holding it carefully in one position. You need to press down evenly. I do this by hand, using a metal spoon, pressing it all over so I get an even print. Some people use a printing press. This YouTube video gives a good introduction.

I’ve been lino printing now for about five years – I’m not sure how long really. I like it because it is so ‘hands on’.  As a teenager I was always whittling away, turning bits of wood into animals and other objects, and it’s really the tactile nature of lino printing that appeals to me. It allows you to put your ideas directly into your hands as you carve your design and, although you’ve got to concentrate, it’s relaxing because you’re not thinking too deeply, you’re just there in the moment with your design. As far as the prints go, I quite like the monochrome effect and also that sense of never quite knowing what you’re going to get when you peel that first print off the lino.

Here are a few of the limited edition prints I have done and which are for sale in my gallery.  There are loads more. Just go to https://duncangrantartist.com/product-category/prints/lino-cuts-prints/. Specific links to the image feaured at the top of this blog and the three you can see here are given below.

 

The image featured at the top of this blog is Fear of Falling it is part of a series I did about the Tube https://duncangrantartist.com/product/fear-of-falling/

Those above are:
Washing Day https://duncangrantartist.com/product/washing-day/
Octopus https://duncangrantartist.com/product/octopus/
Shipbuilding https://duncangrantartist.com/product/shipbuilding/

UPDATE (18/6/19)
Interesting article on the Times today The artists who printed the modern world – Cutting Edge: modernist British Printmaking at Dulwich Picture Gallery https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/times2/the-artists-who-printed-the-modern-world-cutting-edge-modernist-british-printmaking-at-dulwich-picture-gallery-rbm9s3rtz