linocut, Printmaking

Seasons Greetings!

Aah,’tis the season to be jolly! Perhaps, or perhaps not, but  it certainly the season to be sending out greetings cards to family and friends, both old and new. This year I decided I would design and print the Lestaret family christmas card and the process began way back in August whilst on holiday in Devon. I spent a few evenings upon the terrace carving out lino blocks, sipping wine and watching the boats go by as the sun went down… Sorry, I just drifted off a bit then with that memory.

Anyway, I didn’t record any of that, but decided to record the printing as I had decided upon a three colour design and thought that it might be an interesting christmas post. We’ll soon see… The first image shows the mixing stage of the first colour; a pale green. I mixed a little too much ink and quite a bit spare afterwards which I used upon some odds and ends, but still ended up wasting quite a lot.

I roughly cut the outer parts of the block radiating from the centre, deliberately leaving some peaks to pick up the ink. I normally am a bit of a stickler for removing these parts cleanly, but wanted to use them to create a tinsel-like halo around the design.

There is a bit of  ‘Mickey Mouse ears’ about these drying on the lines overhead! A few days later (the ink dries quickly in the summer!) and I was ready to put down the second colour:

A mid green was mixed this time (a little more sparingly this time) and the second block was inked up and ready to go.

If you are wondering what the heck is on these christmas cards, well, you ought to know that they are sprouts, a most beloved or derided part of the traditional English Christmas Dinner!

I enjoyed this second stage as the design began to appear, but also to see how the ink reacted to the layer below. In the print above, you can see that I used too much pressure and squeezed out the ink to create the darker lines around the shapes.

The outer edge was also roughly cut in the same way as before to add more lines to the background.

You can see the design taking shape here, but it is when the third colour was printed the following week that the whole process took effect:

Very sprouty!

So after three runs through the nipping press with the lino blocks it was time to set some type and get the message onto the inside.

This is not a traditional Christmas greeting you understand, but a common phrase heard as the Christmas Dinner is served, and can be uttered in both positive and negative intonations…

mmm… 24pt Times Roman Italic! And of course, my own little marque in a festive berry red upon the back for good measure:

And lo! A card was born, and Mrs. Lestaret didn’t think it was christmassy enough and sent out some cheesy shop-bought cards instead. I managed to send out quite a few though, so if you got one of these this year – think yourself lucky – if Mrs. Lestaret had her way they would have been consigned to the ’round file…’

Have a great holiday, bloggereenies!


7 thoughts on “Seasons Greetings!

  1. Very nice card and effort (regardless of Mrs. Lestaret’s opinion (no offense))! I had no idea sprouts were a tradition in England.
    Was this a reduction cut or three different blocks?
    I’ve started what I call a “mud bucket” for left over used or mixed ink. Instead of ink going down the drain during wash-up, I’ll scoop any left over ink into a small container (regardless of color) and use that for pulling proofs and experimenting. The color has turned out to be a muddy gray but at least that ink isn’t going down the drain.

  2. Cheers Bruce, this is a three block print – I wanted to have all the blocks available in case I wanted to print more.

    A great idea – the mud bucket – wish I’d though of that! I didn’t waste too much in the end, and am fairly frugal with my inks anyway, but I will definately get my own mud bucket started.

    As for the sprouts, they have long been a staple of the English christmas dinner, but sadly, many people were put off them as children after having them served boiled to death in salty water – I really hated them but absolutely love them now. Of course, many people don’t like the flatulence they tend to cause too!

    They are grown on the farms surrounding us too so we buy them locally from the farmers. Mmm, sprouts! We cook them very differently now, but the kids still don’t like them! Funny eh?

    1. Cheers Aaron – loved the jelly type – a real typoholics party food!

      This post is a bit of a cheat really, most of this was done in August and September – the ink dries quicker in the milder weather! I do have a couple of lino projects in the offing, but I am taking my time until the temperature rises a bit more…

  3. Only you would think of this, and I love it!
    dont worry about Mrs Lestaret… tell her if they are cluttering the house I will kindly relieve her of them (:

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