Print Workshop Two: Return of the Lino


I’ve finally gotten around to digitalerising (it’s a word) the second and third stage in our Print Making Workshop at Uni. Yeah sure, technically it finished weeks ago, but I’ve been busy. Besides, good things come to those who wait and other such justifying clichés.

So First up was Lino Cut time. Now I’ve had bad experiences with Lino Cut in the past, in that I was forced to give it a go as part of our GCSE Landscapes project in art class. Bear in mind, this was in a school where the facilities were not geared up to cope with the ambition of print making. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to cut out a seascape from a chunk of lino with an old craft knife and the point of a compass (I shit you not) but it is not a creatively invigorating experience. I suppose it was character building to an extent, and it gave me a new appreciation for my health given the worryingly high chance of contracting Tetanus or losing digits, but I can’t really say it was an artistic high point. Needless to say, the project was swiftly abandoned when it became obvious (both to me and my teacher) that is was going to look shit.

As a result, I’ve been stubbornly against Lino Cut ever since, turning my nose up at it in my Foundation in favour of screen print and other seducingly exotic and more health friendly forms of image making.

So this was not one I was looking forward to. But, like a good student, I purchased my strip of lino and haphazardly scribbled out  a design. I decided not to make my distaste too obvious by ignoring the possibilities of colour, but equally wanted to keep the process to a minimum so I could be done with it quickly, and found 3 colours to be a decent compromise.

Now, I’m a fan of print making. I love screen printing and I couldn’t be much happier with my first attempt at etching earlier this year, but I had just assumed that this love was to forever be reserved for the more elaborate and high-tech forms of print, and Lino just wouldn’t cut the mustard. Let me tell you now, I will one hundred percent eat my proverbial hat. I will eat it with my face smeared in proverbial egg.

Lino Cut and I have worked out our differences and decided to give our relationship another shot. It’s on the provision that never again do I attempt it without the appropriate materials, but that’s the great thing about mistakes; you learn a big, fat, hand bleeding lessons from them and use said lessons to make improvements.

I love my Lino outcomes. They’re bright and fun and were easy to produce. I found the process enjoyable from beginning to end, discovering the gouging of the lino to be pleasantly therapeutic and indisputably pleasing when all went to plan, and the inking of the plate was just as quick. A quick wipe of chosen colour onto the stone, a few seconds rolling it out into a thin, tacky consistency and you’re ready to (rock and) roll straight onto the lino. Whatever you’ve cut out remains clear, only the spaces left behind catch the ink and then you can begin your process of layering colour over colour, gradually removing sections of plate until an image has built up. It’s at this point that you can give yourself a big old pat on the back for successfully accessing the appropriate side of the brain that deals in spacial awareness.

There’s even a mini press for the mechanically obsessed such as myself. It’s not as big as the Etching beastie, but it’s Becky sized and still creaks in that endearing tone of the past, when processes like this were a necessity, not just a novelty.

3 Colour, 2 Stage Lino Cut. Green on white, black on green.

4 Colours, 3 Stage Lino cut. Yellow on white, green on yellow, back on green.

I enjoyed it so much, I shelled out for a bit more paper in order to have a few more outcomes. When I made this decision, I’d already cut out my first layer, so some of my prints consist of 3 colours, some 4. Either way, I’m proud of the results and am really happy I approached it with an open mind rather than stuck to my original convictions.

For those who are interested, the image is an absinthe bottle as it was Toulouse Lautrec’s beverage of choice. I attempted to echo the stunted shape of Lautrec, due to his deformity, in the bottle and used the hat to reinforce this.

Alright, maybe not the best print in the world, but damn good fun and an important learning curve I reckon!

B

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