Once again the Lawrence staff got together for an evening of fun, learning and culinary delights. This time, the demo was lead by Georgia Flowers who taught us about lino printing. Some of us have never tried this medium so we were very excited to put practice behind our product knowledge and test the different relief printing materials we offer. Stay tuned for our finished results!
Although you can start relief printing with only a couple of tools, lino, ink, roller and some paper, we have complied here a list of materials to consider if you are interested in starting relief printing:
Bench Hook: perfect for keeping your block in place and improves safety, also aligns with your table and is easily adjustable for left-handed users.
Lino & Wood Cutting tools: while the economy lino cutters are a great budget option, we were mainly using the professional Pfeil lino tools and the Japanese Woodcut tools at the demo. Don’t be fooled by ‘woodcut’ in the name, they are perfectly suited to cut any relief surface and our staff really enjoyed the soft grip.
Safety Hand Guard: for the safety of your hands, comfortable to use and a must have in the classroom, also suitable for both left and right handed users.
Glass Inking Slab: you use this as a surface for rolling out your ink. It helps you judge the thickness of the ink a lot better and its rounded edges will make sure you won’t cut your hand in the meantime.
Tracing Paper: for transferring your drawing onto the cutting surface. You can draw straight onto lino, but the advantage of tracing paper is that you can see through it which makes transferring both the drawing and its mirrored image onto the lino very easy.
Pencil & Eraser: for drawing your image either on paper, tracing paper or straight onto the cutting surface. We used Faber Castell 9000 pencils, a softer 2B.
Roller/Brayer: we used Lawrence Durathene Rollers which are softer than rubber which is very easy to produce fine details with it. The material is very sturdy and it will last you many years. If you want to know about keeping your rollers in good shape, read this linked post!
Relief Ink: there are plenty to choose from, oil or water-based, water washable and stay-open. Most of the time it is down to personal preference, however, we used black and crimson from Lawrence GB water washable range and Cobalt from the Lawrence Original range.
Relief Cutting Surface: this can be lino, vinyl, softcut or woodblock. Half the group used Traditional Lino while the other half went with Japanese Vinyl and everyone seemed to have an opinion of which one is easier to cut which just proves that it is really down to individual preference.
Printmaking Paper: we used Imitation Japanese Vellum in 130gsm size which is a lovely off-white paper, providing a beautiful contrast with the dark inks we used.
The Printing Process
Once we all collected the materials we needed, we started drawing up an image on a 10 x 15cm piece of lino. Some of us chose to draw straight onto the cutting surface but Georgia warned us that this way the printed image will be mirrored, so anyone who needs their print to stay the way they drew it (e.g. with letters included) should work on tracing paper first. An alternative to this would have been drawing on paper first then using transfer paper.
One big advantage of tracing paper, as Georgia explained, is that it doubles as ‘transfer paper on budget’. Decide what way you want your image printed then cover the other side with graphite. Flip it onto the cutting surface then trace it with a pencil – it will transfer your image onto it.
Once the drawing is transferred onto the lino or vinyl, we started cutting. We had a lot of fun trying different surfaces and tools and comparing results. Carving out the image proved to be not just informative and fun but relaxing too. We all got into the creative head-space and looked more like a group of schoolchildren finger painting than adults practising printmaking!
We could not decide which was the better surface: lino or vinyl, nevertheless, we kept debating the pros and cons. I preferred the look of vinyl as once you started cutting, the black core made everything look very neat and it helped imagine what the finished picture would look like. Others really liked the feel of cutting into lino and described it as “less slippery”.
While we were busy with our work, Martin and Monica were busy with the barbecue and the amazing salad bar they were preparing for us. Needless to say, everything tasted lovely after the evening of hard work in the studio!
We then went back to the studio and finished cutting our blocks. Georgia set up the inking station with black, blue and red ink. We rolled them out on the inking slabs using Durathene Rollers and one by one we inked up our blocks.
The next step was to print our images using the Tofko Professional Press. This press is a recent addition to the Lawrence Art Studio and it comes with extras such as a gearbox and a quicklift. As Georgia explained “the quicklift is used to lift the roller upwards with an effortless motion so that you can get your piece of registration board out. This means that you don’t have to keep wheeling it through in order to get your board out. The gearbox means that as the roller hits the lino and you start to feel a bit of resistance from turning the wheel, it keeps the effort at a manageable level, and you never feel like you’re struggling to turn it. Just like with a bike, the gear changes result in easier wheel turns (except with a bike, you manually change gears and with the press it’s automatic.)” With this equipment the printing process becomes a breeze!
First you lay down your block, inked side up, then place your paper on top. You can use a registration board to place the paper exactly where you want it, but as Georgia explained, it is not a necessity when you are only doing one colour and one layer.
Georgia said she tends to use a cutting mat between the paper and the blanket as she finds that it gives her better results. Once you fold over the blanket all you have to do is roll the wheel and wait for your finished print on the other side. Let it dry for a few hours or days depending on what type of ink you are using and it’s done!
The evening was a success: everyone managed to draw, cut and print their designs (and fill their bellies). Here is a picture of all our finished prints drying:
And here are the prints one by one. Enjoy!
Georgia Flowers is a drawer- printmaker with a Fine Art Degree in painting. She has a particular interest in corvid birds, bicycles, architecture, foliage and traditional tattoo imagery. She likes strong, bold images that contain lots of lines to re-create. Georgia got into printmaking 6 years ago through working at Lawrences to extend her product knowledge but she took to it so naturally that printmaking became her main form of self-expression. She is currently working on starting up her own printmaking classes as a natural progression from advising staff and customers which she really enjoys. Her teaching method is based around the individual student’s learning style and Georgia can offer as much or as little involvement as the student needs. You can find Georgia Flowers on Instagram and on Etsy where you can stay informed about her future classes.
We hope you enjoyed this blog post about our Printmaking Demo. If you are interested in picking up block printing give us a call on 01273 260260 for more advice on materials and on starting out in this wonderful medium. Y All products mentioned in this post are available at www.lawrence.co.uk.