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Reduction Lino Block Printmaking...

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

For me it all starts with collage. I like small carvings and prints, helps me focus on what I want things to look like and also they are really cute. Collage is a method I like to use a lot while working out composition of a print, especially when using reduction lino printmaking Although many of my prints are based on real life matter or place, I like to portray them in my own way and collage helps you get a really obscure but fun view of things.

I find inspiration in an object, form or landscape. I like to have each their own personality and style, studying each shape and line and what colour might suit that particular item.

From there, I print preliminary 'mini' prints in different colours and cut them all up and swap them around a page. For the start of a reduction or multi layer print I like to stick to THREE colours not to get overwhelmed. Swapping the items around and trying them in each colour helps me get my final composition.

Once I've decided on the print, size and shape I can transfer onto a block. I primarily use linoleum, which is a craft material originally brought in to introduce children to relief print. Linoleum is a soft material making it very easy to carve in any direction, compared to the more traditional woodblock carving which would offer quite a bit of resistance. This is where I developed drawing repetitive swooping line to create sky/ background/ sea.

Usually by this point I have added a few extra details in pencil or sometimes straight onto the block, these unplanned parts of the print are my favourite.

an open sketchbook page with sketches and collage of a new print

Then comes the carving. So basically everything you are carving is taking a piece away from the block, leaving a gap which ink will not stick to and transfer. What's left is what leaves the print on the page. For reduction prints, you can only do ONE edition. That's it. Once you've carved (reduced) a section of block for a layer, you can't go back.

To get the colours to show up well you have to print the palest colour first and work you way up to the darkest/ strongest colour to finish. This particular print I've started with a lime green, and the next colour pink and the final colour a dark green. Most of the colour I work with is pastel opaque colours, however you can use a transparent white to create a mix of colour.

The tricky aspect to a multi layered print is alignment. A millimetre wrong and the whole print can look blurred and off. There are a few tools I use to make sure each print is lined up accurately. Firstly, I cut each piece of paper the same size and apply registration tabs, the registration pins are attached to a board that sits on my press. On the board I mark out where the block will sit after being inked, sometimes I add barriers to make it more accurate. Following all these steps, generally they come out looking pretty cool!

Reduction Lino prints can have as many layers as you like, for this print I have stuck to 3 layers. The colours I have used are bold and opaque, perhaps quite different to the theme of the block.

the final print being held outside beside garden foliage

The final print, 'Step Outside'. This print is a limited edition of 9 prints, available now to purchase from my website.


Jackson's Art Supplies, For inks, Linoleum, Paper and Carving tools

Linoleum Block: Japanese 3mm Vinyl

Carving Tools: Flexcut, Pfeil

Paper: Stonehenge : Fine Art Paper : 56x76cm : 250gsm : Pearl Grey

Printmaking Sundries (Registration Tabs): Handprinted,

Wooden Printing Press: Woodzilla,

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