Saturday, February 5, 2011

Linocut Prints Part 2

The knitting related prints are coming along well and I have one plate carved, a lot of good ideas and some test prints accomplished.  I've had to order some ink as none of the stores around here had the Gamblin ink I wanted to use.  I prefer using ink from a tub instead of a tube because you can scrape unused ink back into the jar and since I'm not mixing colors right now it works out well economy wise.  I bought a small tube of Speedball oil-based ink from the store to play with until the tub o' ink arrives but I don't like it much.  It doesn't have good coverage and isn't tacky enough for my taste. 

I've purchased some mulberry paper to print on, a 8" roller, a scraper, a glass palette, a glass scraper, a Japanese brayer, a box of blue shop towels and some "green" mineral spirits that said it was low odor and good for indoor use.  All this stuff adds up!

Anyway here is a picture of my set up.  On the right are all my tools, the glass palette is taped down to my table over a piece of white paper so it doesn't move.  It's pretty easy to clean I've discovered.  I have an old 3" roller for small areas or applying spot color or stamping.  It's quite useful.

I've been really attracted to hands and the textures of knitting and textiles so I've been working on some compositions that include those elements.  I've always loved borders and usually put them on all my work.  I wanted something that was evocative of textiles or yarn and I was going through my pattern reference books and found something I liked in Ornamental Design by Claude Humbert.  The book is reprinted by Dover in black and white but I tracked down quite a reasonably priced original in the lovely orange, black and white that is at once both retro and stylish.  The border design I decided on is based on this one from the book.
Torc Motif.  Luristan, Persia 

I traced the plate I was going to carve in my notebook and measured out a border of an inch or so.  Then I freehand drew the outlined shape.

I added the interior lines when I was carving.  I only do as much work as I need to!  I traced it onto a piece of tracing paper (to the right in the photo above) so I could easily transfer the drawing to the linoleum plate.

I'll add at this point I wasn't sure what the rest of the composition was going to be.  I work on the fly!   I wanted hands but wasn't sure if they would be too difficult for my 5 years rusty skills.   Here is a sketch of my hands I did knitting.  I loved this image but it's pretty complex and I was worried I wasn't up to it.

So then I drew this crappy uninspired sketch of yarn balls with needles.  YAWN.

So I went back to hands and decided that this was both interesting and not too complex to carve. 
 I used the tracing paper to get some of the details of the hand, but I just drew the outline of the sock and added more details to the hand and made the fingers more proportional. I transferred the image to the plate and carved it out.  I did the border first as I knew just what to do with it and it was simple.  Then I carved out the hand, then the whole background.  Then I did the texture on the sock.  I was very nervous about it and how to go about suggesting a knitted texture.  I think it came out quite fine and I was rather pleased with it in the end.  You can see a little texture experiment in the drawing above.  I didn't do something that detailed however.  It wasn't going to work out.  

I did a couple of test prints and decided that while I liked it on the plate, in the print the un-carved out portion of the wrist made it look like a very hairy arm!  So on the fly I just carved that bit out.  It was much better but still needs a little refinement. You can see the two different versions in this photo

I'll be posting more about this when I get my good ink!  I'm pretty excited for it to come.  I'll be working on another plate in the meantime.  I think it'll likely be some hands knitting, but we'll see what I come up with.


  1. Lovely!
    Did you get ink online? Bob at the VCB would always special order stuff for me (which was nice because I got a faculty discount there as well).

    I think the hairy arm is great. :)

  2. Love! Can't wait to see this finished.

  3. Thanks! I did go over to the VCB and he said it'd be in in less than a week or so, but it 2 weeks and went by and nothing, then he called and left a message about being confused about what I wanted because he couldn't originally find it in the catalog and so I became a little frustrated and ordered from Dick Blick. I don't get a discount unfortunately so it was about the same price for me.

    Hah about the hairy arm. Eli was the one who pointed it out to me, and after that, It was all I could see!

  4. Beth,
    These are beautiful, will they be for sale?

    amy caterina

  5. Wow, those are beautiful! Aren't linocuts underrated? I linocut my wedding invites, but they weren't nearly as elaborate and beautiful as yours. Nice job!