Test Lino Cuts

For this exercise I have been tasked with experimenting with mark making on lino. I have never used the technique of lino cutting and printing so firstly I wanted to try out the different blades to get a better understanding of how they feel to work with. I chose this small beige “soft cut” lino to work with too ease myself into it.

For the bottom left square I used the “1” cutter which according to the guidance which came with the tools, is designed to be used to create lines and cross hatching. The top left I moved on to “2” cutter which is a universal tool, and easy to use due to the low angle. I decided to create some simple shapes with this which resemble blades of grass. Moving on to the middle bottom, I kept it simple by attempting straight lines using the “3” cutter, which with its rounded cutter and deep sides lends itself well. For the top middle square I used the “4” cutter, which has a wide rounded “vee” bottom, I found this one quite tricky to use and attempted these little spotted shapes. The top right square I attempted some fine lines to create texture using the “5” cutter, which looks very different to the others, and has more of a round hook shape. I tried to use round sweeping movements to create this sort of tidal wave shape. Lastly in the bottom right corner is some hatch marking I created with the “A” cutter, the most simple and safest tool to use due to its shape.

Here are the prints of my first mark making lino cut experiment. The first example you can see that the very fine cuts in the bottom left of the lino have printed quite well, but unfortunately after this point the fine lines become quite saturated with ink and then no longer print the fine detail. This first print is also a little patchy, as I think I was intentionally trying to be quite light handed in order to pick up the detail from the finer cuts, I didn’t apply enough ink to produce consistently opaque prints from the lino itself on the other squares. I’ve righted this issue in the next print, where I have applied a better layer of ink. I’m quite happy with the overall print quality of this one.

For the next prints I’ve added some yellow to the red ink, which has only made a slight difference. The fine cut square in the bottom left is really sort of fading away, now but the other cuts still retain strong line and definition which is positive. I thought perhaps if I tried to take a ghost print of the lino it might help in absorbing any residual ink in the inner cut marks so tried this next (right).

Unfortunately the ghost print has had little effect on the fine cut markings, and they continue to disappear even more so. The other squares however continue to produce good prints. Overall this was a good mini exercise to progress onto the larger sized lino cut with multiple markings. Looking through the selection of 6 I think the second print is the best of them all as the ink is printed consistently and you can still see quite strong cut marks in the more finer detailed square.

Here is a scan of the final test lino cut I made which is A4 in size and has 24 squares all demonstrating different cutting experiments using different tools. I worked systematically using one row of 4 for each of the different cutting implements. Starting at the top I used number 2, then 3, 4, 5, then the ‘safety’ cutter A and finally the finest at the bottom number 1. I tried to use a variety of different cutting techniques, aiming for straight lines, curved, scratched, rounded and carved. I thought about trying to create natural looking shapes such as that of leaves or waves as well as more solid geometric lines. Overall this was a great exercise to get a better understanding on how each tool can be useful for different cutting styles and the results they may yield.

This is the first print I made using the lino cut, I chose this very bold blue first of all to act as a good contrast on the white page. I can see that some of the squares have been more successful than others in creating a strong print. For example the fourth row down using cutter 5 was probably the finest cutter of them all and so only provided very delicate cut markings in the lino rather than cutting out pieces of lino, so the marks are very subtle, although this would be useful to use for example if you wanted to depict some sort of texture in a print, maybe a mountain or stone surface.

As in my previous mini experiment I decided to take a ghost print of the first inking as I thought this perhaps might enable some of the ink to lift from the very delicate cut markings and allow for further more successful prints using alternative colours.

For this print I used a deep purple. Unfortunately this print doesn’t seem as consistent as the first and I think it may be because I was apprehensive about overloading the lino with ink resulting in the finer cut markings not printing. However because of this some of the other squares have started to look a little patchier than in the first blue example. As well as row 4 the final row, 6, which uses another fine implement, has meant that some of the cuts haven’t appeared very strongly either, although again these very subtle markings do look appealing in for example trying to depict something delicate in nature.

Finally here is the last print, I added a little white to lighten the deep purple, although it’s still striking enough to see a clear contrast. Again I might have had some issues with not pressing quite hard enough with the paper onto the lino as it appears a little patchy however the more I look at the prints, the more I am drawn to the very subtle cut markings. The larger cut marks from rows 1-3 are fine but they aren’t very subtle, and are more strong, which I don’t enjoy as much as the finer detail. The top row, is probably a good medium between the different outcomes and sits between being bold with some subtlety.

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