Posts Tagged ‘printmaking’

Lino-cut printing process

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

I finished a lino-cut today that I’ve been working on and I documented my process along the way. This is a reduction print. This means you start with a blank block, or plate, and work backwards to your last colour layer. This is usually black. The general rule is to start with your lightest ink, and end with your darkest. You also have to keep in mind that a fairly transparent ink may not adequately cover your previous layer.

I used water-soluble Speedball block inks, which are relatively non-toxic for use at home and is also quick to dry and very easy to clean up. These inks, the roller (brayer), barren, and linoleum can all be purchased at most art/craft supply stores. The nice paper is a bit harder to find (Lana Gravure), but any smooth printmaking, drawing, or watercolour paper will do.

I took a workshop from visiting artist Laura Peturson at St. Michael’s Printshop this summer and learned this water-based technique. I left a day between printing each layer, but you can print again within a couple of hours. However, if the humidity is high, the ink can take a long time to dry.

This is my third print using this method, and, as you can see, I’m still having problems with laying the inks down nice and smoothly. You can see that the yellow, red, and grey layers are a bit splotchy. I’ve made several one-colour lino-cuts in the past and I think I’ll go back and make a few of those.

I hope you find this informative!

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Above: Steps 1 and 2. I had already cut away the first white (or paper colour) layer before I decided to take pictures. Here is my block with the yellow ink rolled out on it.

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Steps 3 and 4. Here is the first layer, yellow, all printed. Next, I’ve cut away everything that I want to remain yellow in preparation for printing the red layer. Pics of me cutting and printing lower down.

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Steps 5 and 6. Here, the red ink has been rolled onto the block and you can see the details more clearly.

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Steps 7 and 8. Here’s the print with yellow and red on it now. Also, a close-up of the block. The ink will only be printed if it is on the smooth, flat surface of the linoleum.

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Steps 9 and 10. Here is my block and my reference picture that I coloured digitally. And here is my block with the third colour, grey, rolled up on it.

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Steps 11 and 12. Here’s the print with the grey on top of the yellow and red. And, finally, I took a picture of me cutting the block with my wood-cutting tools. Always push away from yourself!

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Steps 13 and 14. Here’s the plate with only the black lines left. And here is the black ink rolled out onto a sheet of plexiglass. My paper is also face-down on top of the block here. I have a template drawn underneath so I know where to place the block and the paper every time. The block is taped down as well, so it won’t move while I am printing.

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Steps 15 and 16. Here I am printing. I’m using a lot of pressure and moving the barren in a circular motion all over the back of the paper. Next is the block with the black ink rolled up on it. You can see the text is backwards because I forgot to invert my image before transferring it to the lino using carbon paper. I often forget this step!


Step 17. Done! A bit splotchy and offset, but I’m pretty happy with it. It measures about 8″ x 9″.

UPDATE (03/21/11): I’ve recently learned that water-based inks work best with soft-cut type lino blocks, and not so well with traditional linoleum. This may be the reason for my splochiness! Oil-based inks work better with linoleum. I don’t really like the texture of the soft-cut blocks, but will try one on my next project and report back.

First GOCCO Print: Simple, yet successful.

Friday, November 6th, 2009

UPDATE: I’ve made a new, more detailed Gocco tutorial here (January, 2011).

I found a used Gocco machine a few weeks ago and finally got around to testing it out today. I needed to be free of all other projects. I took a few pictures to show you. I’m not going to give a full-on tutorial here, since there are plenty of great ones already on the YouTube, with music and everything.


The Gocco is pretty much a self-contained screenprinting apparatus from Japan. It was super popular there for years and years. Unfortunately, they stopped making them a while ago because demand dropped, and now the supplies and machines are a little scarce. It’s kind of heavy on disposable materials as well (screens, bulbs, ink), but I just couldn’t resist trying out this new (to me) printmaking technique. While doing my research, I’ve learned that a lot of ladies out there are using this to print up wedding invites and stationary. If you can get your hands on one for this purpose, I would recommend it. Just read up on it first and be sure you want to do the grunt work.


The screens are made with carbon-based drawings only, so I just went up the road and got some photocopies made of my original drawing. Apparently your laser printer has a bit of carbon in it too, if you have one.

Since this was my first go at it, I decided to stick with a simple line drawing, in order to avoid large areas of ink blocking up or getting splotchy, and any other frustrating obstacles. I was very happy to find that it was very simple and easy to do! The neat thing is that you can print multiple colours with one screen, by blocking off different areas with some foam strips that have adhesive on the back. I cleaned off the ink and switched to a different colour scheme half way through, which worked okay, but the image did break down a little and I got some extra specks around the bigfoot that were not part of the original drawing.


Screen is inked up here and ready to print — you just have to place your paper on the grey spongey block there and then push the top part down, like a big stamp.


KA-CHUNK (it doesn’t really make a sound like that, unfortunately).


There it is.


The ink is oil-based, so it will have to dry for a few hours.


This is the screen after printing is finished.

Get to knowco your Gocco

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Last month I made my second Christmas card using my Gocco machine. I picked it up second-hand a while ago through a Kijiji ad.

This is a screenprinting process, but instead of pulling the ink with a squeegee, you press it through the screen using the machine like a big stamp.

I did a simple tutorial when I first picked it up, but that was just a one-screen print. This time around I used three screens and decided to take more pictures for an in-depth tutorial. There are tons of other Gocco tutorials and Youtube videos around for this sort of thing, but I thought it would be fun to add to the pile. You can click on the pictures for a larger version.

I also did a lino cut tutorial a while ago here.

The screens are made with carbon-based drawings only, so I went up the road and got some photocopies made of my original drawing. Apparently your laser printer has a bit of carbon in it too, if you have one. My print has three colours: blue for the background, red for the box, and black for the lines. You need to make a photocopy of each of your colours for this step. I used Photoshop to break my drawing up into three parts. You could also try tracing paper or carbon paper if you have it.

Each colour needs its own screen if the colours are going to touch. If the colours will be far apart, you can put more than one on the same screen and separate the areas with strips of the Gocco foam blocking pad. You’ll see these strips farther down.

Next, you expose your screens. Your photocopy goes on the printing pad, and a fresh screen goes in the top section of the machine.

Then, two fresh bulbs go into the lamp. Unfortunately, both the screens and bulbs are one-time use only. Also, two AA batteries are needed for the bulbs to operate.

When you press down on the top part of the unit, a big flash goes off and the screen is exposed. I don’t really get how this works!

After you remove the lamp and lift up the top of the machine, your paper will be stuck to the screen. Gently peel it off and your first screen is ready to go. Repeat these steps for each screen. The ink will now only go through where you can see your drawing.

The screen pictured above is for my third screen, the black lines. This will be printed last.

Next, ink up the screen. Lift up the clear plastic flap, and squeeze the ink all around the printable area. Then, stick it in the machine. There are arrows to help you.

Lay your paper on the grey pad and then firmly press down the top of the machine to print. Be sure to print a couple on scrap paper first. The first one or two will be blotchy, and you also want to make sure you’re happy with the colour you’ve chosen.

Since more layers are to come, I used tape to mark off where I laid the paper. This is to ensure I will lay it in the exact same place while printing each layer. It’s a bit of a fickle process, and each print will still look a little bit different from the next.

Each layer has to dry for a few hours because the ink is oil-based. Water-based inks would dry in the fine mesh way too quickly, I think. It is a bit smelly, so a well-ventilated area is best. Lay the paper in racks or out on newspaper on your floor or table.

And there’s the first layer. The next picture shows the second red layer. Here, I’ve surrounded the area with the foam blocking strips. This is just to prevent wasted excess ink. The ink won’t spread beyond the strips. You can see here how two or even three colours are possible with only one screen. The little piece of tape is blocking off a hole that’s not supposed to be there.

Here, you can see the card with the second layer, and then the final product.

I hope this was a little helpful or at least interesting!

A Fairy Tale of Sorts

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

A Fairy Tale of Sorts is the third Werebears minicomic, created in July, 2011. It is full of adventure, crazy new creatures, and wild times! Now available for sale in the Etsy Shop!

This is not a collection, but an all NEW story featuring the Werebears characters, a whopping 39 pages of original comics not published anywhere else. Let me tell you, my stapler could just barely do the job.

The cover is a 3 – color Gocco print. There are two variations; you can specify which cover you prefer if you like (brown or beige).

Also comes with a surprise sticker (while quantities last)! You can stick these buggers anywhere!

Finally, there are still copies available of my last comic, Paper Hats and/or Boats.

P.S. I love to trade, so e-mail or Tweet me or whatever and we’ll talk!

Xmas Cards

Thursday, November 24th, 2011
































My xmas card printing went much more smoothly today when I switched from a water-based ink to an oil-based ink. I think it’s because the grey linoleum doesn’t like the water-based ink very much. The water-based ink was printing quite splotchy and I couldn’t fix it.

I then did a non-toxic cleanup using a 50/50 mix of vegetable oil and white vinegar (a great tip from friends at St. Michael’s). Works really well.

The next step is to add some spot colours using watercolours, I think. They’ll be up in my Etsy shop over the weekend.

Christmas Cards available

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

My new set of Christmas/holiday/wintery cards are now available in my Etsy shop in sets of 4 and 8 (save!). They’re hand-printed linocuts with watercolour accents. Snowflake-printed envelopes are also included. Check ’em out here!