The last time I posted a printmaking entry I set out to see if I could achieve clean, even prints from a linocut block on my nipping press. It wasn’t a scientific test, but I was generally methodical and got a couple of quality prints from what I hoped was based upon experience and on a growing understanding of the pressure required for consistent prints. It was time to see if I could do it again. This time with two new blocks, both of hands again.
I filmed all of these processes in small one and a half minute bursts with the intention of uploading them instead of stills, but I am too cheap financially cautious to pay for the video upgrade. So I have pulled some frames out that record each stage, from inking to end. (The quality of the images is not as good as some of the previous posts.)
First, the ink is rolled out on a flat smooth surface to an even thickness. I am using a water based relief ink which means cleaning up is easy and there are no fumes to worry about. This ‘rolling out’ usually takes just a couple of minutes.
The ink is then transferred to the block. I will keep re-rolling on the ink plate to refresh the roller until the block looks evenly coated. It is best to apply the ink thinly over several minutes; too much ink on the roller will fill up the shallow cuts in the block and spread beyond the raised edges.
When I think the block is fully inked it is then carefully moved over to the press. Usually, I have found I have underinked the first time around, but I would rather be under- than over-inked at this stage.
The block is placed face up centrally on a pre-marked piece of stiff board. This is not a great image, but it does show the proximity to the press at this stage; I have a ‘dirty’ inking area which is out of shot directly behind me in the image above, and a clean area around the press. It is best to be careful at this stage – I don’t want to get an inky thumb print on a fresh piece of stock. I have a pack of wet wipes on the side next to the press to keep wiping any ink off my fingers.
The stock is then carefully laid in position over the block and covered with a piece of felt I am using as a press blanket to spread the pressure evenly.
The whole pile is then (very) carefully transferred into the press and positioned centrally by eye.
A few turns until the platen reaches the base and then a firm pull. I tend to make a sort of “Gnnnh!” sound as I do this. If I don’t make this involuntary noise I find that I have not used enough pressure. Other noises, like “Uurgh!” and ” UUerrr!” tend to mean that I have exerted too much pressure, and the prints are to ‘forced’. If I make an “Arrgh!” noise it usually means I have had a hernia or left my finger in the press.
Again, carefully remove the pile and place back at the side of the press in the clean area.
Remove the felt and carefully (I’m going to stop typing in the word ‘carefully’ now – everything I do is careful!) lift up the stock from one side.
It’s a good ‘un! In this series, I printed three off before this one and pulled another two good prints after. The last one a smudged as I was removing it from the press. It was ok as a print too, but I wasn’t too disappointed. I then inked up my second block and began the process again. This time I achieve a good print on the second pull, followed by two more good ones and a patchy one.
This is the full amount of prints pulled last saturday afternoon. Three good prints from each block, thats a neat 50:50 out of 12 prints in total. I think that’s pretty good for a beginner.
Here are two of the good prints. Click for an enlargement – the originals are about half the size.
All three images have been added to the projects page.