Back in applied arts training school we had a semester in printmaking. I loved it and always planned to keep going and buy a small press once. But life took me elsewhere and more than a decade passed. But somehow recently I found my way back to printmaking and it's not easy. I once knew how to make a plate, ink it and print on some kind of paper. Now I had to find out that deteriorated linoleum ink, a bad choice of paper or poor registration technique can give you really hard times.
I'm truly grateful to those people who master these techniques who make Youtube videos and teach all you need to know from basic understanding to small but great tips. I still need to get experience by practice, but thanks to these masters it's a lot easier to learn any skills these days.
Reduction linocut Take 1
Now this was an awful idea. Trying a reduction print and with 4 colors when I just restarted this whole printmaking stuff... Well, it could've turned out well, but for one thing I chose to print it on a lightweight Chinese paper intended for painting. The paper was difficult to adjust to the registration jig and the ink was too tacky too, sticking to the paper.
So, just about everything went wrong. But the few pieces that I might call an edition I got to like. I suppose I learned to appreciate my own effort and work I put in those pieces. Even if the outcome is not exactly as the original sketch.
Great tit woodcut
I made a few lino prints back in school but woodcut is fairly new to me. This one I tried to cut with the same tools used for linoleum and this Shina plywood is soft so I didn't bump into huge problems. For the color block I used cheap flooring linoleum.
Meanwhile my school etching press arrived so I started printing the image on that. Again with this textured watercolor paper I made an inadequate choice – this one can be solved by dampening. But... I really tried to adjust paper in place, though I only used the form and pencil lines, and still the key block went ofset. As Colin Blanchard enlightened since then, the problem might be in dampening the paper.
Anyway, I have to make my trial and error to make good progress. This tit is not the greatest print I will ever make in my life – at least I hope so, but I like it too.
Reduction linoprint Take 2
Of course I won't give it up after one try. This time I chose a white crane – a whooping crane and put it on a light blue water backdrop. I used only two color blocks – the head was a bit tricky adding red with a brush to the block. I had to work with simpler shapes and lines, my Caligo Safe Wash inks arrived, I used smooth surface printmaking paper and I made a decent registration jig! So, as Colin Blanchard puts it: what could possibly go wrong?
The pressure of course. Okay, the inking of the first block is also a bit clumsy. Lesson learned: there's no need for such a high pressure for relief printing. And again, despite the slight failure I love this white beauty.