Linoleum Block Printing

 


Block Printing is a style of printing paper and fabric, wherein a block that has been carved with a design is dipped in paint and used to create repetitive patterns. Wood block printing, metal block printing and linoleum block printing (also called linoleum relief printing) are the three popular methods of printing with blocks.

What is Linoleum?

The term ‘linoleum' was coined in 1863, by an Englishman called Frederick Walton. He joined the Latin word ‘linum' which means flax, with ‘oleum' which means oil.

Linoleum is made by oxidizing linseed oil to form a thick mixture which is cooled and mixed with pine resin and wood flour. It also contains limestone and other natural pigments.

The Process of Linoleum Block Printing

Linoleum block printing is also called linocut. The block used for printing consists of a thin layer of linoleum mounted on wood. Mounted linoleum boards are called press high. They are mounted on a composite board usually one inch high.

The process of linoleum block printing starts with drawing the image on the block. The drawing can be made using either the direct method or the transfer method.


Direct Method:

In this method, a marker, brush and ink are used to draw the image directly on the block. It must be remembered that the image is to be drawn laterally inverted.

Transfer Method:

The image is first drawn on tracing paper. This is then secured face-down on the block. A carbon paper is placed between the block and tracing paper, and the image is redrawn. The transferred image is then sharpened by redrawing it.

The block is then ready to be carved. This process involves using straight knives, ‘V' shape tools and ‘U' shaped gouges. If the linoleum is for some reason difficult to cut, it may be warmed slightly.

The ink is then applied on the block (not in the carved grooves; these will constitute the part of the design that is to be white or that is to remain the color of the material being printed). The linoleum block is then pressed onto the fabric or paper.

Advantages of Linoleum Block Printing:

Linoleum is a soft material, and it is therefore easy to cut. It has a no grain pattern, and this permits cross cutting without compromising the image. The result is a more fluid print.



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