Relief printing with lino

Relief printing is where ink is applied to a raised surface which is then transferred to another material such as paper or fabric.

To achieve the ‘raised surface’ we need to remove what is not to be printed. Sharp tools called gouges are required to do this. Above is an example of removing or carving the lino.

The first pic shows the lines of the flower being carved out. I’ve used a small ‘v’ gouge as I wanted a reasonably fine line to cut the lino and follow my drawing more closely.

The photos above show another piece of lino with the same image but this time I’m cutting around the outline of the flower and the petals will remain. I’ve used a ‘u’ gouge to carve the background away as the flatter blade removes the lino more evenly. Whatever is carved out will not print.

When relief printing, the paper is placed over the lino which has had ink applied to it. Pressure is then required to transfer the ink from one surface to another. There are a number of ways to do this varying from a large printing press or a hand tool like a baren or even the back of a spoon! The print, once lifted away from the lino will be a mirror image of the carved block.

In these examples, I’m printing on fabric. This method is also known as block printing. The process is still the same in terms of the transfer of ink but as my lino blocks are reasonably small, I apply the pressure by hand like a stamp onto the fabric instead.

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