It has been a long time ince I last talked about printmaking techniques (see etching post here) and I wanted to share the process on a gift I gave to Julia for our wedding anniversary back in October. We took wedding photos in the leaves at a park near the church, and I decided to do a small lino-cut print of that moment from our special day.
Woodblocks and linolium blocks cane be carved to do a type of print called a relief print. Unlike etching, where the ink goes under the surface of the plate to make the image, in relief printing the ink sits on the surface of the block.
I stared by doing a drawing the same size as my lino block (2" x 3"). It is hard to achive grey tones in relief printing when working at such a small scale, so my design theory was to play just with black and white and have each of us visable by what surrounded us. The white of Julia's dress would be defined by the tree behind her, and the black of my suit would stand out against an open sky area. It was fun to think soley in these terms again, like a 2D design class first assignment.
The next step was to transfer the image to the block. Using a soft lead pencil, I coated the back of my drawing. I then placed the drawing on the block (graphite coated side-down) and then retraced my lines with a ball point pen. When the paper is removed, the places the ball point pen applied preasure transfered the graphite from the back of the paper to the surface of the block.
Next comes the carving. Because ultimately it's the ink sitting on the surface of the block that will form the image, I need to carve away just the areas that are to be white. It's a complete oposite of most etching techniques as with relief printing you are actively working on the negative spaces and the areas you don't want to print.
Using a brayer (think of it as a printmaker's inky rolling pin) I coated the surface of the finished block with 'ink' (in this case acrylic paint). Because the brayer is straight accross, it will not get ink down into the carved portions of the block, but apply it only to the surface. A sheet of paper is placed on the block surface and then rubbed with a spoon. The spoon applies the preassure needed to make sure the ink transfers to the paper evenly.
I hand colored the final print to add the fall color that was so much a part of our Wedding Day. Good to note that the printed image is the mirror of the original block (true with etching as well).
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