I teach regular printmaking classes on Wednesdays at East London Printmakers in Hackney, East London. The studio is a cooperative of 30 artists and has been running for 11 years. As well as linocut I teach screenprinting and etching. Workshops are open to all and I usually get an interesting mix of people. For more info on workshops go to the ELP site
This particular workshop was reduction linocut where a single piece of lino is printed multiple times, the image being carved away more between each printing. The printed area is reduced each time, hence the name. This process requires careful advance planning and the destructive nature of the technique means you cannot go back to an earlier stage to make more prints, so it is wise to print a few extra from the start to allow for mistakes. This is a technqiue that Picasso used to great effect.
The first stage is to transfer the image onto the lino. This can be done by drawing directly onto it with pen or pencil, or using transfer paper (carbon copy paper). It is important to remember the image will be reversed (mirror image) in printing so all any text must be back-to-front!
After carving away the first area of lino, which will be the colour of the paper (usually white) in the final print, the block is inked up with a roller. The ink is rolled out onto the glass surface until the roller has an even coating then is rolled onto the lino. The amount of ink on the roller is crucial to getting a good print. Too little ink and you get a pale impression, too much ink and the edges lose their definition and the ink ‘splurges’ out (technical term).
The inked-up block is place on the bed of the press. In this case, we used an antique Albion platen press but you can get equally good results using an etching press. A piece of paper or plastic under the block acts as a guide for registration. The position of the paper and block are marked on the registration sheet so they can be lined up perfectly for each print. This press takes a bit of effort to use, as you can see!
The print is carefully peeled back and stacked on a drying rack, ready for the next colour.
This process is repeated for each layer. In this one-day workshop we just about managed 3 colours. Below are some of the prints the students produced.