Letterpress, linocut, print, Printmaking, Uncategorized

Next Stop – Lino Prints!

Some of you may recall a post last year about New York subway signs. I have had those things knocking around in my head for a while now, and decided to do something with them at last. I had been wanting to do some more linocutting as I have been a bit letterpress obsessed of late, and wanted to do something typographical, so here we are:

The letterforms are very condensed with a mixture of rounded and square corners and were not difficult to cut. I wasn’t aiming for perfection either – I like the individuality of the construction – the originals were probably created by a signwriter rather than a typographer.

I selected two destinations from the original scrolls  to fit comfortably within in an A5 landscape area as I was planning to make these into greetings cards printed onto A4 card.

I also decided to go two colour – my first ‘proper’ bit of two colour printing! I cut a piece of lino slightly larger than the typographic block and printed around 20 or so sheets in a creamy yellow to mimic the original colour.

Once dry, I set to printing the black typo block. The image above shows my press jig (more on this another time); this helped me position the cards each time to get a reasonably close register on each print. The strip of card taped to the woodblock on the left is slightly bowed upwards to create a flexible ‘stop’ for each sheet, and there are markings (a bit light to see in these images) to help centre each sheet.

I deliberately did some under-inking to get that vintage worn out print feel.

The second block was printed directly after.

It’s a good feeling pulling away the prints. I’m never entirely certain of what I’ll get, but I think I got lucky here – apart from the first trial print of each block, every print was usable.

The garage finally started to look like a print shop too, with three rows of prints hung from strings in a zig-zag across the ceiling.

I am really pleased with the prints.

Next, I am going to print the Lestaret logo upside down on the other half of the sheet, before folding into greetings gards. I have set up the type and will complete the printing next week (Mrs.Lestaret has got me doing some DIY this weekend!) I enjoyed setting the mixed sizes for this:

I actually printed something on all three presses that evening (Wednesday 5th May) and I felt rather good for doing so too! Once I had cleaned up the lino, I inked up a single character on the little green HS1 and completed my second two colour prints! Just this question mark in red added to some 12 & 6pt Cheltenham setting in Prussian Blue I did a couple of weeks ago, with some of the really old type that came with the press.

It’s not beautiful; but it is hand-printed using old type on an old press (by an old man too my students may say!) and I am happy to be able to produce it myself.

I also tried again with the Adana 3-5 and the printers prayer I started previously, but this time with the rollers on! Oh yes, it’s amazing how excited I can get about four bits of plastic!

After making some corrections to the type, I locked the forme up into the press bed and did a few test prints. This press is a darn sight smoother than my little HS1!

As you can see, I still have some issues in getting a uniform impression, so I now need to do some ‘spotting up’ – sticking small strips of paper on the tympan where the type is not making an impression or is light:

After much wailing and beating of breast I admitted defeat.

I had made some improvements to the prints, but was spending so much time fiddling about with the spotting up I hadn’t noticed that it had got late and I was swearing a lot and beginning to get a bit peeved. 

So this week I have achieved some things and admitted defeat in others but thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I doubt the car will make it back into the garage printshop again either. I will be in there regularly, printing stuff and ‘messing about with type’ – something I’ve been far to serious about at times. I want to print more little quotes and phrases cards too, and will probably do some competition stuff over the summer, along with some bookmaking – something I haven’t mentioned much here, but I have been quietly sketching and playing with some new ideas.

I am also aiming to revive the circus poster during the summer and begin some detailed lino or wood cutting – not sure which yet – I’ve been advised to try some MDF for woodblock printing! Of course, you will see them here first, don’t worry!


7 thoughts on “Next Stop – Lino Prints!

  1. The lino cuts are lovely Chris, especially how the ink is particularly weaker in the corners. Such a lovely quality and also connotes the aging an original sign.

    Also your own branding set in Letterpress I am pretty jealous of, I have done something similar but I am saving it til the summer for when i start a new blog!

    1. Hi Aaron, thanks for the comment – the uneveness of the print is what makes it worth doing – flat, clean, solid blacks are great sometimes, but it’s the flaws and the vagaries that make it unique. ‘Printerly’ is the best word to describe it I think. I’ll save you a card or two in thanks for your lovely book!

      Don’t be jealous Aaron, I expect that what you have got planned for your new blog is better than mine!!

    1. Hi Jodie, I suppose the best place is the nearest place! Most craft shops will sell smallish pieces, or you can buy on line – I’ve been buying quite a bit of stuff from from Great Art:
      and been pleased with the quality and price.

      There is something really odd about lino – you either love it or hate it, and as frustrating as it can be, it is therapeutic and rewarding at the same time.

      If you do some, let me see! You could always come over and print with me too!

  2. Hi Chris, thanks for the link, i’ll check them out! Lino is a great medium to work in as you often get ‘happy accidents’ which look brilliant. Ive still got all my old tools from my college days too – i knew they’d come in handy again one day.

    Thats the only thing i dislike a little about working in the design industry – everything is so computerised no mater much you try to avoid it. I shall enjoy getting back to my print making days again:-)

  3. Jodie – get yourself some new tools! Those from you college days are probably blunt – I can recommend the Abig tools from Great Art – cheap but better than the plastic handled ones you get in most craft shops. Go-on, treat yourself and feel the love of the lino!

    Safety first – cut away from your fingers and warm the lino before you start, it’ll cut easier and cleaner…

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