|I went so far as to buy vintage chem textbooks for pictures like this.|
After trying potato printing and realizing that it is amazing to be able to make the same image appear over and over, I decided I wanted to do something a little more permanent. After a couple days in the fridge, even tightly plastic-wrapped, my potato stamps were looking a little worse for wear, so I started poking around the web to figure out what the next
|A bacteriophage, an amoeba, and a squid.|
|A beaker, a distilling flask, and an Erlenmeyer flask.|
|A jumping/flying cat, fungi, and a sitting cat.|
1. Start with a linoleum block. They come in all different sizes, mounted and unmounted, and are pretty inexpensive (this tiny 2"x3" one was just a dollar!). I've seen them at Dick Blick and at Utrecht, but (at least here) they're cheaper at Utrecht. You'll also need a linocutting tool; I have this set from Speedball that has a handle with interchangeable tips.
|Blank canvas and some ideas, sketched on fluorescent pink post-its.|
|The linocutting handle and tips.|
2. Sketch your drawing onto the block in pencil, or if it's a more complicated design you can print it out and use carbon paper to transfer it. Just remember that the image will print backwards. Since all of my drawings are just pictures, and not words, it didn't really matter to me; all of mine were just drawn straight onto the block.
|Pencil erases (and smudges) pretty well on these blocks.|
3. If the linoleum is the really stiff kind, you'll need to warm it up before cutting into it.* Since it's still really warm in SoCal, I just put mine on the windowsill. I've also heard my letterpressing teacher say that she's put them in her car to bake, or just sat on them.
|Like this, but the blocks are much sharper at the corners.|
4. Start cutting! I like to use the tiniest tip to carve grooves right around the lines I want, then I use progressively larger tips to remove excess material.
|Be careful as you're cutting -- if the lino's not warm enough, it's easy for the tool to slip and you can give yourself a nasty cut. Not that I would know...|
|Scraps from one block. I did a lot of vaccuumming with my tiny dustbuster.|
Next week: I promise I will actually make prints. On real fabric.