Monday, March 09, 2009

Linocut & Printing Setup

Linocut and Woodcut work area

One of the best things about linocut printmaking is that if you don't have a studio it is very easy to set up in small area and quickly packed away if the small area with the best light happens to be your bedroom. This little desk under my bedroom window has great light and a gorgeous view of the garden. It's my winter retreat when my studio in the centre of the house is too cold. Katherine Tyrrell at Making a Mark suggested I might like to share my tools and setup with anyone who is interested in this very satisifying form of printmaking.

The setup is very simple - laptop for listening to BBC Radio 4 while I work, an old mouse mat to sit my lino or (in this case) plywood plate on. To the right are the tools.

While there are two linocutting tools sets on the desk, I seldom use more than the four tools in the centre of the picture. The two on the left are from Zecchi, in Florence and needed sharpening before use. The two of the right are Swiss Made Pfeil tools which came beautifully sharpened. I have two small V cutters, one small U and one that is almost flat. Most of the time I use the small V and the almost flat tool from Pfeil. I use the same tools for lino and plywood. To the left of the tools is a small piece of 2000 sandpaper that I drag the cutting edges against to keep them sharp while I'm working. I have a small oil stone but also use a Japanese wetstone we have for sharpening our kitchen knives. I hope with experience to become better at sharpening my tools.

When I'm ready to print I can set up at the same tiny desk.

All you need are some tubes of printing ink (I prefer oil based), a small piece of glass - I'm using an old mirror to roll out the ink, a rubber roller and a barren or wooden spoon to rub the paper against the inked plate.

The alternative printing method is a press.

My favourite piece of equipment is at the studio:

Old book binding press used for relief printing.

That's it really. Oil based inks can be cleaned up with cooking oil and vinegar . I always clean my plates with turpentine, and that's best done outside. I don't know if the cooking oil is good for cleaning these. Maybe someone would like to advise.

Rice paper is very nice for hand-pulled prints otherwise use damp paper, specially manufactured for printmaking (watercolour paper has too much size). Just soak it in a tray of water for about ten minutes and then roll it out between sheets of blotting paper before printing.

For the bits of ink that always end up on my hands and nose I use baby oil or babywipes.

So what are you waiting for?


vivien said...

your set up is so neat and clean!

I'm with you on the ink on hands and nose though :>)

yes, the cooking oil is fine for cleaning the plates and then you won't have to go out into the cold :>)

If you use the soft easy cut lino without hessian, then you can finish it off in soapy water to remove the last trace of oil. If it's the stiff lino you can rinse it under the tap and not wet it too much and it's fine.

Robyn said...

Vivien - I'm a bit of a neat freak, but only over my obsessions. If only I had the same attitude to weeding the garden!

Thanks for your advice. I've only ever used the hessian backed lino. I'll see how I go washing it up. I do like the way the turps 'cures' the lino but the more time I spend in the big print studio the more convinced I am that I should try to avoid the chemicals.

Anonymous said...

Brava, Robyn! This is one of the great things about blogging - not so long ago you were asking questions, now, here you are doing show-and-tell!

Vivien's right about using oil on the lino.And to get the gunk out of some cuts try a toothbrush.(I actually bought a denture brush cos they are really stiff!)

Jennifer Rose said...

thank you for the pictures of your set up :)

Amie Roman said...

I LOVE Pfeil tools; my most cherished tool is my 45 degree 6mm V parting tool. It's how I get all my fine details.

Ok, well, now I'm using a Dremel with MDF, but when I'm using lino or SafetyKut, it's my Pfeil for most of my carving.

Nice little setup you have there! Thanks for sharing with us.

Anita said...

Are you a tidy freak? WOW - wish my space was as neat and tidy as this.
Great to see your tools. I was looking at them on DickBlick the other day and wondered which were best. Hmmmm a little press like that might be easier to come up with.
Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

You look very organised! I never thought of using a book press for printmaking. You'd have to keep it VERY CLEAN if you also used it for bookbinding, wouldn't you.

Sharon said...

VERY interesting. I love seeing the process and the tools you use...

Jeanette said...

Ahhhh to be neat and tidy. I try, but my lino printing sometimes gets exhuberant :)

I like that book press idea...hmmmmm wonder where I could find one of those??

Thanks so much for share tips and equipment, its fabulous to see what you do and where you do it.

Robyn said...

Dinah - We have quite a collection of old toothbrushes for that purpose. I will check if anyone I know wears dentures - and hang around waiting ;)

Jennifer - I'm glad you found it interesting. I don't claim to be an expert - just neat.

Anita - You are probably in quite a good place to find an old book binding press. Print out a photo and take it to the markets.

Wendy - Of course, I'd never thought of actually using a bookbinding press for bookbinding! It is quite easy to keep clean though because you make a solid board the size of the base of the press to put your linocut on then a couple of pieces of felt on top of the paper and there shouldn't be any risk of getting ink where you don't want it.

Hi Sharon :)

If you can find an old press, Jeanette my tip is not to squish any dead fish in it ;) HWEM bought me a beautiful fish for my dinner tonight and he won't let me print from it - at 10 euros for a little fish, I figure I should get my money's worth, don't you?

Joan said...

Thanks for showing your setup! I'm waiting for someone to give me space to work like you have. lol

Joan Sandford-Cook said...

What a great tidy space to work in. I make an effort before starting a new project to clean up my work areas, surfaces, palettes, and tidy away my materials into their respective spots in my storage cupboards.Trouble is have two areas for my artwork - one upstairs and one down - and I always seem to need what is down when I am up and visa versa!!!!

Katherine Tyrrell said...

This is lovely Robyn! Great photos and great explanation - it's a dead cert for a link on Sunday. May I have a photo too?

Did you get somebody to make you your registration set-up?

OK best book I've bought so far for explanations is Handmade Prints by Anne Desmeret and Jim Anderson. They're both teachers - she's a former Lecturer in Printmaking at the Royal Academy Schools. It's all about printing without a press!

However that is a very nice looking press you've got there!

"JeanneG" said...

Very nice and neat but looks like it could be a messy process. I'll stick to my pencils.

Robyn said...

Joan - Both my work spaces at home are very small - no room for big ideas. :)

Joan S-C - I have the same problem, there's always something I need that's in the other place.

Katherine - Thank you :) HWEM made my registration jig (I was impressed!). Thanks for the tip on the book and please, help yourself to a photo. Anything of me in a swimsuit is off limits! ;)

Jeanne - I promise this method is not messy. You would, however hate the process of inking etched plates.

Robyn said...

Amie - I'm sorry, I lost your comment for a while there. I'd love to know what you are doing with the MDF.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing your set up and tools. But I have to say, the idea of me doing it like that is way too funny. I would have ink on the laptop, carpet, walls, me, desk etc etc. I'm one of those people who always gets food down their front. And paint on the walls. I LOVE how tidy you are.

Robyn said...

Cath - I think an artist is supposed to get paint all over the place. I'm not normal and HWEM (He Who Encourages Me) would agree with that! I'm glad it gave you a smile.

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