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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Cut and Print!

"Cutting Class" is the title of an upcoming exhibit of linocut prints done by students of Laura DeLind at East Lansing's Grove Gallery (coming this fall). My friend Kate had taken two of Laura's classes and while we were at art camp she taught me how to carve. We had yet to print, though, so after a wonderful dinner, Kate, our friend John and I went down to Kate's studio to whip out the ink and go to town!


Now, this is my first carving and as you'll see as we get to the printing process, I have a long way to go. There is much in this carving of my window cat that I would change in a heartbeat (and probably will try to or else recarve it later). So this is a first attempt -- and it's instructive to show it as a reminder that we don't all start as well as Kate does -- or the remarkable Heather and Gary of Little Ram Studio in England. (Their blog is one of my favorites; I adore their beautiful prints!)


There is something you should know about me -- when I was in graphics in ninth grade I got an A. My teacher told my parents I was the messiest kid in the class. And the smartest. He was sort of forced into it because my projects were B-ish but the written tests were
all As!


 So, down we went to the studio ready to print.


Kate demonstrated the inking process. You use an oil based ink that cleans up in water. (Keep those baby wipes handy!) Using a rubber brayer you smooth the paint till, as Kate says, "it sounds right." I'm not sure I could quite tell what "right" was -- a little squeaky, perhaps?




Then you ink your linocut, moving your brayer in one direction at a time (any direction works but not back-and-forth) until your piece is covered in ink. Then flip it over onto your paper.




You flip it onto your printing surface and use a burnisher, rubbing it over your inked linocut with fairly heavy pressure.


 Then flip your paper over (holding the edge of your cut so it doesn't slip) and using the back of a spoon, continue rubbing, hard, and you'll see the ink reveal your pattern.


When it looks as though your pattern is visible enough (that's something you just learn -- what "enough" is), hold your work at one corner and gently remove the paper from the lino.


Voila!


Kate says the first prints from the lino are never the best and that the more you print, the better they become. I found that true as well. I chose black as my color (because we know a black-and-white cat that is always an inspiration). But when I printed on a gelli-printed substrate, my black cat became calico!


Let your prints dry and clean your block. Make any adjustments and count the moments till next time!


My observations on this process. One, it It requires a lot of pressure and elbow grease. I was literally sweating onto the work area. Not attractive. Dress appropriately and keep paper toweling handy to mop your dewey brow.


Two, you can get really messy. So keep those baby wipes handy!

Now, I know a lot of people make their prints with presses (which makes a lot of sense). If you are doing it this low-tech way, you need to count on a lot of elbow grease and pressure.But what I really loved about this was that it could be done low-tech. You need the right tools to carve, ink, paper, and very little else. The carving requires a linoleum piece (if it's on a block it's a bit easier to work with but mine was not).


You also need a good apron (like this one made by Joanne!) and yes -- don't forget the baby wipes! Did I mention that before?


Every new technique requires a lot of work and a lot of practice and I have my work cut out for me if I decide to pursue this one in depth. But I have to admit, it's pretty tempting because it was an awful lot of fun and I can't wait to see where I go next!

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your cat came out so cute! When I was in high school art class we used to gently heat the linoleum. Did you do that too?

Janet said...

It looks like fun but also a lot of work! Your cat print looks great! No one would ever know this was your first time doing this.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I noticed the apron right away and loved it. :) Your finished product turned out excellent - I'd never guess it was your first one! Sounds like it was a lot of work/elbow grease but was worth the effort!!

Angelsdoor * Penny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angelsdoor * Penny said...

Jeanie,
What a beautiful job! Love your cat print..
You look like you are having a great time... Thanks so much for sharing
blessings,
Penny

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

It looks like such fun, Jeanie, and I thought your print came out wonderfully!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

It is the coolest thing to watch each other take great pleasure in the work of our hands, our minds, our souls. OH JEANIE, THIS IS FABULOUS!!!!!

gigihawaii said...

That's a very nice first attempt. I am impressed.

Shelia said...

Aren't you the cutest little thing!! I love your little print and enjoyed seeing how you made the print. I'll bet that took some time! Thanks for popping in to see me and I just love your hair! :)
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

The French Hutch said...

Jeanie this looks like you are enjoying every minute! I love how your cat turned out. I'm not surprised you were the smartest in your class, it shows in all you do. You are just so adorable in your apron. Love the pic of you and Rick too on the sideboard.
Have a great week........
Hugs, Emily

shoreacres said...

Now, this I like. Sometimes the craft projects you all do are a little frilly (or something) for me. Maybe "busy" is a better word. But I am in love with this cat. Completely. I like the black and white, I like the simplicity of line, I like the boldness of the design. Hooray for you, learning a new skill -- especially one that could be so promising in the future!

psychelyn said...

It's good to know that your husband is back safe and sound.

I also got better test results than my handy projects.

Your print is supercool. I like that carved and printed cat very much.

Joanne Huffman said...

It's so cool to make your cuts and see your print come to life. You did a great job. And it's so cool that you experimented with using different backgrounds. And, thank you for modeling the apron so beautifully; I'm glad you like it.

annie said...

I remember doing something like this, seems like a lifetime ago. I think I still have the tiles somewhere (deeply buried in my attic, no doubt). It would be fun to try this again.

Ruth said...

I am so impressed by you! I just love your cat, and I think you did a fabulous job! Do you think you'll try it again?

My uncle was a block printer (as well as having a printing press), and we have many of his multi-color prints. I appreciate them even more now that I see the difficult process. Thank you.

anno said...

What charming, expressive lines -- I love your kitty! Sure hope to see more...

Tammy Chrzan said...

I love how your cat turned out! You could make your own Autumn cards now :) I also wanted to thank you for your lovely comments and advice on my blog. You made me feel so much better about blogging and putting my goals out there for all the world to see, you're right it does hold us accountable. You also made me realize I need not be hard on myself! Thank you, very much... Tammy x

Tammy Chrzan said...

I love how your cat turned out! You could make your own Autumn cards now :) I also wanted to thank you for your lovely comments and advice on my blog. You made me feel so much better about blogging and putting my goals out there for all the world to see, you're right it does hold us accountable. You also made me realize I need not be hard on myself! Thank you, very much... Tammy x

Tammy Chrzan said...

I love how your cat turned out! You could make your own Autumn cards now :) I also wanted to thank you for your lovely comments and advice on my blog. You made me feel so much better about blogging and putting my goals out there for all the world to see, you're right it does hold us accountable. You also made me realize I need not be hard on myself! Thank you, very much... Tammy x

Shelia said...

Hi Jeanie! Oh, thanks for popping in to see me and I hope your day is going well.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Sandy K. said...

This looks like so much fun. It is obvious you are enjoying your retirement! Thank you for your comments on my blog, and checking in as we traveled. I appreciate the connection to home. 😎

The Artful Diva said...

I find cutting my own stamps for printing very soothing - your's turned out great!

Marilyn Miller said...

I absolutely love this art form. You did an amazing job. I had to smile when you mentioned 9th grade. In art class in 8th grade we did this for one of our projects. I loved everything about that class and did get all A's. This is an art form I could be tempted with. It would make amazing holiday cards.

Tammie Lee said...

this all looks like such good fun! the prints came out wonderful!
i love carving and then printing. thought i have never done it like this.

Beate said...

I love your print so much! It looks awesome! :)
We did this in school once and I remember that it was so much fun. We did have a press there though ;)
I hope you are doing well, Jeanie. Sending a big long hug to you! Beate

littleRamstudio said...

What a great print Jeanie and thank you for the mention too.
You are right about the aprons and wipes, our aprons are now works of art in their own right, full of ink daubs!
Heather :)

~*~Patty S said...

How exciting and you got such great results Jeanie!
Your lino cut is wonderful and your prints turned out beautifully too.
May I say it was worth all that sweat and hard work :-)
I really wish I had been able to take some art classes in school(s).
Lucky you!
My father was in the military and we moved so much maybe that had something to do with it?
Thanks for sharing such a fun time with us
oxo

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