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

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.