Sunday, December 21, 2008

Suicide Printing!



Linocut reduction relief print 11.5cm x 11.5cm

Inspired by Sherrie Y of Brush and Baren I've produced my first (very) limited edition, three colour reduction linoprint. I've heard this method referred to as 'Suicide Printing' and I certainly understand why.

Sherrie very generously posted instructions for making a paper registration jig on her blog. Armed with Sherrie's instruction HWEM set off to Obi for some bits and pieces in order to prove that he isn't just a great cook. The bits and pieces included a new saw, a new screwdriver, a mini plane and many other essential tools and pieces of timber! But he did it!

Print station with registration jig

Since I'm using oil based printing inks, I've set everything up on a little desk under a window. Surprising this really doesn't have to be a messy job.

Once I'd cut my lino block I soaked some sheets of printmaking paper in water for 10 minutes. I inked the block with the first colour and then rolled out the first piece of paper between sheets of blotting paper.


You can use a rolling pin to press the surplus water out of the paper but I think a good bottle of wine is essential because a lot can go wrong in suicide printing.

Our salad spoon has found a new role in life. A piece of tracing paper on top of the damp paper stops the baren (right) or spoon catching and moving the paper.

First colour - Sanguine, I didn't like it as much as the yellow so I only made two prints.


While waiting for the ink to dry I started cutting away all the bits of the plate where I wanted the print to remain yellow - or yellow plus the second colour. Only 12 prints, I wasn't very confident about carving this complicated (for me) design and didn't want to waste too much paper.


Second colour stage and the registration is good so far (thanks Sherrie!).


Next I cut out the iris of the eyes and all the sunrise type background ready for the final colour - black. The finished print is what you see at the top of this post.

This worked out rather better than I anticipated and of course I was sorry I hadn't made more, particularly since the registration was out in two of the finals and I smudged another. That's why it's 'suicide printing' - there's no going back to print more of the earlier colours.

I realised quite late in the carving process that I could make a quick proof of my progress by placing a piece of typing paper over the lino and rubbing it with a graphite stick. I guess I'm not the first to think of that.


Finally I was left with my oriental looking cat so I experimented with a chine colle of rice paper and tissue and called it Striped Cat.


Editor's Note: Just remembered where I picked up the term 'suicide printing'. It was from the blog of the British artist, Ian Phillips. He has a wonderful description of the process on his blog here. Treat yourself and see some wonderful work.

21 comments:

Katherine Tyrrell said...

OK - from a standing start, you're now jogging off towards a four minute mile!

This is so good - both print and explanation. I've decided I want to try lino printing if my very dodgy hand will let me do it. This was after seeing that the printmaker who produced my new print (see this post) has been 'printing' his lino cut prints since the 1960s using only his tobacco tin as the baren!

vivien said...

looking GOOD Robyn! this is a really difficult technique and you've done it so well :>)

I cut a lino last week but haven't had chance to print it yet - it is NOT a suicide print as I'd never be organised enough!

Robyn said...

Katherine - Thank you:) I don't think lino printing would be too hard on your hand. It's the actual cutting that could be tiring. You could just try a cut and see how you go. I am so passionate about it. It's instant gratification (well, almost). Of course we can probably have access to a printmaking studio when you get to Tuscany ;) I bet you would love monotypes!


Vivien - Of course you are organised enough! Thank you so much for your lovely comment, most appreciated coming from a printmaker. Now I want to see yours.

moreidlethoughts said...

Another instance of needing a word other then "wow."
Robyn, you have done an excellent show and tell here and the "striped cat" is great.
Oh yes...Pinot Grigio is a good choice!

Jeanette said...

You really are moving on this! I'm so impressed. And how interesting to show how its done. I'm lapping up the processes and your beautiful results.

Sherrie Y said...

Well, Robyn! I don't know if I should be delighted or nervous that your first reduction (no need for anything drastic here YET!) lino turned out so splendidly. Perhaps I should put some of MY first attempts up and see what horrible places they take us. (Think: final edition of TWO.)

Well done! And a delightful image to boot!

Anita said...

Now this is one kind of printing I have done! Wonderful explanation given - truly instructional! One question from someone who does not have access to printing inks - can you use any other media apart from ink?

Joan Sandford-Cook said...

Wonderful explanation making us all want to 'have a go'. Being a cat lover (have two) I adored your fat contented moggy resulting print.

Mary said...

A great post Robyn, I will have to come back and re-read it with more time to be able to see how you did this exactly. I love it, and the fact that it was done without a press makes this all the more exciting!

Joan said...

Robyn - This is great!!! I love your rolling pin...If all else fails you can drown your sorrows!!! lol I did a few linoprints (one color only) many years ago for Christmas cards. It was fun to see them after they were printed all lined up on my living room rug. You are so good at finding challenges for yourself. Ciao!

Felicity said...

Your talants are truly diverse! I too love the fat cat print, it's very striking! I popped over too to say thank you so much for nominating me on Katherine's blog. It means a great deal to me, and in fact, you probably don't know, but it was your nomination last year for my cat drawing that gave me the confidence to go out in a new direction with colour pencils!
Thank you again and have a wonderful Christmas and New Year, I hope it's a very happy and healthy one for you and yours!

Toni said...

Hey Robyn this is fantastic! No matter what you touch it turns to gold. Love seeing the production.

May you have a wonderful holiday.
Merry Christmas, Peace and Joy to you and your family.

cathsheard said...

Lovely prints, and the chine colle striped cat is quite exciting. I love the way the red pops. Hope you treated yourself to a glass of that wine to celebrate your success.

Quilt Knit said...

I miss all printmaking. I have to find a place to do stone printing for this year. Your linocut is just magnificent.

Laureline said...

You ARE amazing---and have inspired me to try this medium in 2009. Don't know if I will, because of all else I've got planned, but that doesn't diminish how inspiring you are;D. Happy 2009---I so hope I'll be able to come in spring with Casey for a visit!

Laurel Neustadter said...

This print is awesome. The design and colors are very eye catching.

mARTa said...

hum; take an intermediate drawing class or printmaking next semester? I think you are doing awesome work in all media!!! Our local college where I take art classes and the local art museum are really into printmaking. Maybe one day I'll take the plunge too!

mARTa said...

hum; take an intermediate drawing class or printmaking next semester? I think you are doing awesome work in all media!!! Our local college where I take art classes and the local art museum are really into printmaking. Maybe one day I'll take the plunge too!

Mim said...

These are wonderful! Might just try it myself (oh no...not another project!)

Belinda Del Pesco said...

I don't know how I missed this, but I did, until today. Woman, you are amazing! I can't believe the way you are diving into this, head first! Go, go, go! The print - and your process shots are excellent! Do more, do more! And may I suggest this: enjoy some experimental mixed media play time. Print a pile of cats in different color inks, and then add watercolors, and/or elements of collage from magazine tear outs (gardens, cat eyes, flowers & leaves, etc.) and use other media like acrylic, oils or caran d'ache over the dried prints. (It's an art party. Pour some wine and have at it.) Wonderful, wonderful project! I look forward to more in 2009! (And Hats Off to the jig-builder - nice job!)

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

very cool demo.

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