Linocut Christmas Print

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Every year a friend of mine sends out handmade Christmas cards. She illustrates and then screen prints the card and her husband writes a poem inside. It’s easily one of the best things I get in the mail all year.

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I have never sent out Christmas cards myself, but this year I was inspired to share my friend’s DIY snail-mail love. With minimal setup or investment, I figured linocut would be the easiest way to get back into it.

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I bought some supplies from a local art supply shop:
• a mounted linoleum block
• water-based ink
• brayer (roller)
• cutting tools

And then I had some supplies already:
• wooden spoon as a baren
• glass for ink
• cards and envelopes

To get started, my wife actually talked me INTO doing a rocketship card—coolest wife ever—and I began sketching for composition. Once I had it where I wanted it, I sketched the art directly onto the block with a pencil.

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Then it was time to carve. I initially bought the cheapest cutting tools they had. Bad move. Complete garbage. I returned them before even making one cut. Then, in my excitement to get cutting, I forgot to warm the lino, so it probably could have been easier than it was. I also used zips instead of gouges. I think that was easier AND harder for a few reasons. For my next project, I’ll get some gouges and use both.

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Once the carving was done, it was time to print. I rolled the ink onto the glass, then onto the block. Getting a consistent inking was tricky; I think oil-based inks would roll out more consistently, but water-based sure clean up easily. I also cheaped out on the brayer and I think it’s too soft, pushing ink down into places it shouldn’t. Dammit Aaron, Get yourself some real tools! 

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Then I set the card onto the block, rubbed the back with a wooden spoon, and peeled off the card. Over 40 times. Yeah! Printmaking! I have a lot of techniques and materials to experiment with and even more to learn, but I was really happy with the result of my first attempt at linocut and I already have ideas for my next print.

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Here’s a quick video showing the basic setup:

If anyone has any questions, let me know and if you’re an experienced printmaker, please tell me what I’m doing wrong! 

Merry Christmas everyone!

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8 thoughts on “Linocut Christmas Print

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    1. It seems like everyone I talk to did this in high school! I spent half the day in the art room in high school and have done all kinds if printmaking in college. How is this possibly the first time I’ve done linocut!? 🙂

  1. I got mine in the mail today….so cool to get this. Brings back memories. We made cards this way one Christmas, my mom cut out a design on a a piece of linoleum tile, think it was tobogganing scene, then we got to help with the prints….your card looks a lot better than I remember ours turning out..have a great Christmas and thanks for the Card and Picture….

  2. I LOVE how your rocket ship card turned out – and I am so HAPPY that you went handmade this year. Hopefully this is first of many! Merry Christmas to you and the fam!

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