Linocut uses the same printmaking process as woodcut: You basically make a giant stamp. The printing process is often called block printing. Using sharp tools, you carve an image into the surface of your linoleum (synthetic plastic) block and then roll ink over the top of it using a roller called a breyer. The part that you don't carve away is the part that gets ink on it, and that is the part that prints. So you have to think about your image in reverse -- kind of like a negative of a photograph. Also, you have to remember that your image will print backwards. This is especially important if you are planning to use letters.
To print by hand, you can place a piece of paper over the top of the inked linoleum and then apply pressure by rubbing it with the palm of your hand or with a wooden spoon. If you have access to a printing press, you will place a sheet of paper onto the press bed, put your linoleum (inked side down) on top of it, and roll it through the press.
Linoleum blocks are inexpensive -- around $6 for a 7" X 9". The linoleum, usually around 1/4 of an inch thick, is glued to a block that is made of something like compressed wood chips. You can buy linoleum without the block, which will be a little cheaper. I recommend that first-time users buy linoleum mounted onto a block, because it's easier to hold on to while cutting.
I like to prepare my designs with thick charcoal pencil lines on paper. To transfer the image to the linoleum block, I place the paper image side down onto the block, tape on edge to hold it in place, and then firmly color over the back of it with a soft lead pencil. (You likely used this technique in a kindergarten art class.)
Then it's time to carve. I use Speedball lino cutters, which cost about $20, and come with several different sized gouges. Gouges are V-shaped pieces of metal that are very sharp. Tip: never carve towards your hand. Lean on your block with your arm and carve away from your body. Otherwise, you will slip and jab yourself with a lino cutter. Which hurts. A lot.
I like to use Speedball Fabric Block Printing Ink. It's about $9 per tube, and one tube should allow you to make several small prints. Even if you don't plan to print on fabric, this ink will serve you well because it is pretty gooey and won't dry out as quickly as other water-based block printing inks. Soap and water clean up is quick and easy. Working with oil-based ink is fun, but not so fun if you're printing from home, because clean up takes too long and involves a lot of mineral oil.
You can buy a small brayer for around $10. You'll also need a piece of glass to squirt the ink onto so you can roll it evenly on to your brayer. If you don't have a glass-top table, I recommend buying a cheap picture frame that includes glass at a craft store. The frame will hide the glass edges and keep you from cutting yourself.
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