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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!