Items you will need to print the lino plate with are:
- ink – oil or water based
- rubber roller (width must be larger than your lino plate)
- glass pane or cardboard to roll the ink on
- scrap paper
- printing paper
- blotting paper
- barren or spoon
Protect surfaces with scrap paper, you will also need some scrap paper standing by too. I am using oil based inks to print with as I prefer the result. You can print onto any paper, though specialist printing papers I find give the best results. I also print with damp paper as I have found that it gives a crisp image when printing by hand. I damp the paper by running under a tap; I shake off the excess water and then store it between sheets of blotting paper until I need to use it.
To ink the lino plate you first need to apply the ink to the roller at the right consistency. Spread a line of ink at the top of your inking plate, pick up some of the ink on the roller and start to roll the ink out on your inking plate. When the ink is evenly spread and has a ‘velvet’ texture you can start rolling the ink on your lino plate. Keep rolling out the ink, and transferring ink onto your lino plate, until you are satisfied that you have a solid covering of ink.
I then replace the paper under my lino plate as it usually has ink on it which I don’t want on my final print. I place my damp printing paper on my lino plate, then I place a piece of scrap paper on top. I rub hard using a barren (pictured) and the back of a spoon all over the paper on my lino block until I have a solid print. You will find that you really need to press very hard to get a good print; the back of a spoon is a perfect tool to do this. To ensure that your prints dry flat, place them between sheets of tissue or scrap paper and press underneath heavy books until dry.
As you can see from the photograph above the writing in the star shape has printed as a mirror image and it is correct for reading; I made sure that the writing on my lino block was backwards. It is very annoying when you forget that writing must be cut backwards; which I did the first time I tried to print this image. It was only when I printed it I realised the mistake I had made, and so I had to re-cut an entirely new lino plate. The print on the left is wrong and the print on the right is correct.
(All images and works under copyright © Catherine Cronin)