So what do you do exactly? I get that question often! Today I am going to try to give a little overview of what I do. There can be a little confusion when a client wants me to make something that can’t really be done the way they are envisioning with linocut. Some examples being- resizing current prints (Digital) or tiny typesetting for invitations (Letterpress) or just very personal customization like changing names or images.
Here to clear a little of that up: I am a Linocut Block Printer. I hand sketch the design, then use sharp tools to hand carve that sketch into a block, and that block is used to hand print the image using ink and pressure. Once the image is carved very little can be changed. It can take days or weeks just to carve one block. I started block printing to be able to produce something handmade but could be reproduced a number of times.
Make any sense? Here is a longer more detailed version:
WHAT IS BLOCK PRINTING?
Block Printing is one of the oldest types of printmaking that originated in Asia. The orgin of this style began with wood but can also be made with linoleum(linocut), Styrofoam or other mediums. What is printmaking you ask? Printmaking in general is creating “master plate” from which multiple images are made with the use of ink and pressure.
There are four our main types of printmaking. Some may be familiar some not so much.
-Relief (“raised surface” Ink stays on top of plate. Such as Woodcut and Letterpress)
-Intaglio (“cut surface” Ink goes down inside of plate. Such as Etching)
-Planography (“flat surface” Ink stays level on the plate. Such as Lithography stone or metal using the reaction of grease vs. water)
-Serigraphy (“block-out surface“ Ink is sectioned off in the plate. Such as Silkscreen)
Relief printing is a technique for producing patterns by means of carving a design into a type of block. The raised part (part left un-carved) is coated with ink and then able to print the design on fabric or paper. Images that are printed with this technique are typically much bolder than other types of printmaking. Since the blocks are carved by hand, there is often less detail and more texture to the prints. Typically block printing is done by hand, so the ink sits on the surface adding a raised texture to the paper unlike in letterpress, where it is typically indented into the paper with a press.
Block printing is one of the easiest forms of printing to try if you are interested. A press isn’t needed and most supplies are easy to find.
HOW TO BLOCK PRINT:
Everyone varies in technique but here are the basics:
1. DESIGN: Starting with a sketch then transfer sketch unto a block. The printed image will be the reverse of what is on the block.
2. CUT: Using various tools made for carving, carve away the parts that will be the without ink Producing positive and negative space.
3. INK: Ink is rolled out with a brayer making a thin sheet of ink on a surface such as glass, and then spread onto the block. The ink will stick to the parts that were un-carved.
4. PRESS: Taking a piece of paper and laying it carefully on top of the block and pressing with a barren or a preferred tool such as a wooden spoon to transfer ink onto the paper.