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Hand printing linocut with a spoon

Hand printing linocut with a spoon is something I teach in my workshops but I have never used this technique for anything bigger than a cereal box. It requires patience and effort, as you have to burnish the paper hard to get it to take the ink fully. Well, I needed the patience of a saint this week when I hand printed my giant whale linocut. It took me four hours (with breaks for lunch and instagram) and two days later my arm is still sore.

I made the whale linocut for Ditchling Museum’s Big Steam Print event this weekend. In stark contrast to the labour intensive spoon printing, this time a steam roller will be employed. You may ask why I don’t just use my printing press. The answer is that the whale measures 6ft x 3ft (180 x 90cm) and my press is only a third of that size. Before the block gets run over I wanted to take a few proofs, but in the end I only had time for one.

Below are some photos of the hand printing linocut process. I used Caligo ink, which I use for all my work, and is oil-based but washes up in water. I was worried the ink would start to dry before I finished but it was fine. The paper is an ivory coloured Japanese washi called kozuke which is machine made and 70% kozo (mulberry fibres). It comes on a metre wide roll from Shepherds in London. I realised two minutes into printing that I was using the wrong side of the paper, but decided to continue. The smoother surface on the other side might have take the ink a bit better, but in the end I was happy with the textures created.

If you’re in Brighton tomorrow, come and say hi and see the steam roller in action. I’ll be there printing this beast between 4.30-5.20pm.

Big Steam Print Event
Sunday 22 May 2016
The Level (a park – hope it won’t rain!)Brighton
12-6pm

hand printing linocut

The block inked up and ready to print

hand printing linocut

Close up of the block showing the carved background marks

Hand printing linocut with a wooden spoon

The wooden spoon I use for hand printing linocut

hand printing linocut

I used two weights to hold the paper in place

Hand printing linocut

This gives you an idea of the scale as the paper is peeled back.