Artists Blog

How a linocut is created

Celia Lewis
How a linocut is created

The first thing to understand about a linocut is that it is the exact opposite to an etching or engraving.  A linocut is a relief print where after inking the plate everything that is carved out will remain white when printed on paper.  With an etching or engraving everything that is either eaten away by the acid on an etching or scratched onto the plate with an engraving needle will print black after the plate has been cleaned, creating an intaglio print.

Lino cutting is often the first taste of printmaking most people will get – and its wonderfully versatile.  There are several methods, the simplest of which is illustrated here (see Crow Can-Can), but there is also a technique called a ‘reduction linocut’ where the plate is carved gradually and put through the press several times, each time with a new colour and more of the design carved away – this is also called a ‘suicide print’ as you will only achieve the number of prints that you make with the first printing.  Patience and care is required, as the plate and the paper must be replaced for each printing in exactly the same place as before – a registration board is made to achieve this.

You must remember that everything will print in reverse – trial and error is a learning curve.  The plate won’t last forever but you should be able to get upwards of 50 prints from it – I usually limit my editions to 20 or 30 as it get boring to print the same one over and over!

Editioning and rules and regulations for it is a whole different ballgame.


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