linocut

It’s All In The Head


I have an itch that I need to scratch. My skull fixation needs to be further indulged and so I sketched out some more realistic drawings and decided upon another two colour print. I first drew out my skull on layout paper, carefully positioning it in a block measuring 135 x 110mm. On another layout paper overlay, I traced the block size, and the main areas of the skull. I used a grey marker to indicate the general colour areas – these details will be determined by the cutting process.


Carbon paper was used to transfer the image onto the lino. Note how loose the linework is inside the skull. The next stage is the cutting, beginning with the edges and then the open spaces:


The rest is carved away – I won’t see how well I have done this until I go to print, but I have erred upon the safe side and probably left a little too much on. This will probably need some more work.


I decided to print this block before carving the next one – there is always time between printing each colour for more carving. The image above shows the inked-up block – a cool mid grey – on a card jig. This was made at the same time I cut the blocks as I wanted to get a good registration on this. The image below is just a close up of the inked block, but I guess you’re used to seeing this kind of thing here.


The first print is always a test on plain paper. The patchy inking always gets better on subsequent prints, but it is in the linework I am really interested in here. I’m actually quite happy with this as the quality is fairly consistent and so I will do a small run as it is. I may ‘thin it out’ for another print run at a later date though.


First print onto my handmade stock was immensely pleasing. Although I have run a few tests on the handmade paper before, this is the first ‘proper’ print. The paper was ‘trimmed’ to A5 size but without cutting as I wanted to retain the deckle edge. For this I run a water filled pipette down a ruler to wet the paper in a line, left it a few moments and then gently teased the two halves apart creating a fake deckle!


Here are some of the prints drying – there are some prints in the background that will be featured in another post!


As the paper is very soft, it has a visible ‘bite’. Very nice. I also run a couple off on some of my mixed stock paper:


Ready for the next colour. Better get on with it then.


This block needed a slightly different approach. This time, I wanted to control the inner detail and allow the outside parts some freedom to develop. I used a red marker again as this helps to define smaller details. 


The outer edges were simply carved away in a circular motion all the way round. Plenty of peaks and incidental marks left to create a texture that will overprint the solid grey of the last block.


Second block carved. This is my submission for things organised neatly. Enough of this OCD tomfoolery – time to print.


The first print is always a test to check the cutting and to get the block ‘started’ – I find it takes a couple of prints to bring the block up to print ready; getting a few coats of ink on and off the block until there is a uniform result. It’s always good to see ink the block for the first time too!


Using some A5 card for set ups (I printed a couple of extras just for this stage) I checked the registration and the two colour effect – I mixed a little black to some prussian blue for this, and away I went:


The only problem is, that when you start scratching…

You can get one of these lovely prints on my handmade paper from The Department of Something Else

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2 thoughts on “It’s All In The Head

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