Instructables

How ANYONE can make a linocut

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If you’ve always wanted to make your own custom-stamped cards, patches or invitations, but feel like you’re out of luck since you aren’t a master illustrator, this instructable is for you! No drawing skills? No tracing ability? No problem! If you can carve a pumpkin, you can make a linocut. I’ll show you a handy shortcut to making your own linocut and you’ll be block-printing away in no time.

This instructable includes a photocopy transfer technique to apply an image to your linoleum block, an introduction to carving linoleum, ideas for embellishing your block print with color, and tips on printing on to fabric and scrap paper.

You’ll need:
A set of carving tools with different tips ($6-$10 for a starter set)
A linoleum block ($1.29 for a 2"x3" piece & up)
Block-printing ink ($3.79 for a small tube of water-soluble, a couple extra dollars for oil)
A brayer (I got a 4” hard rubber one for $7)
A barren (optional; $6-$20)
A plate of glass for ink, or a flat-bottomed glass dish (around the house)
Use of a printer or copy machine & standard paper
Cards, scrap paper, or fabric to print on
 
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Step 1: First thing's first- what are you making?

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Before you buy any materials, you need to decide what your end result will be. I tend to be a spontaneous art-maker, but this is one thing that benefits from planning ahead of time.
Do you want to make your own wedding invitations? How about some postcards or patches for your band? You’ll need to know the size of your final product so you can select the right size linoleum block for your project.

I usually make art cards with card blanks (a heavy cardstock with a shallow pre-bend) in a 5”x7” size so that they are easy to frame, so I use linoleum blocks that are 5”x7” for that purpose. I find it is easiest to use paper that is the same size as your block when you’re printing.

You can print on most smooth surfaces that will hold ink. Paper is ideal, fabrics with a mild texture work best. You can use either water-soluble inks or oil-based ink for paper; it’s best to use oil-based ink for fabric or wood.
Very good!
Basy4 years ago
I use linocuts to print on fabric, they have lasted me a good ten years. I usually glue the lino to a piece of plywood. I use a sponge roller instead of the brayer and an old tray to roll the paint on and old spoons. I will try and do an instructable on this in the next few weeks.I use a linotool that is just a handle and then there is about 10 types of different blades that can be used with it. They come as a set. I find these a lot better than the linotools you buy for wood carving. I use fabric paint.
trucdart (author)  Basy4 years ago
Hey, that's great! Thanks for sharing that! I'll watch for your fabric-printing instructable. :)
Creativeman4 years ago
Another well done instructable, trucdart...good job. cman
trucdart (author)  Creativeman4 years ago
Aww, shucks. Thanks! I feel so loved! :)
angelabchua4 years ago
this is awesome! i wonder if this technique would work with fabric and some fabric paint....
trucdart (author)  angelabchua4 years ago
Yes! Yes it does! Silkscreen fabric paint is very smooth and hard to roll on with the brayer, but honestly it may even work with plain old acrylic paint. I have used fabric paint by brushing it on when the brayer didn't work, or using a spongier linoleum that held the paint more like a stamp. Let me see if I can find a photo of one of those projects...aha. Here's one where I traced a leaf then stamped it with fabric paint on to this upcycled purse.
You can- it would be like using a rubber stamp! If you can find a book published by Reader's Digest (way back in 1979) called Crafts And Hobbies, there's a chapter on printmaking and linoleum cut block printing is mentioned. And if you want a quick, simple stamp (say, for a repeating design), you can actually cut a potato in half, carve your design on the raw face and dry it with a paper towel. And be sure to use water based ink *only* :)
trucdart (author)  cartman5504 years ago
Absolutely. The potato carvings are the original DIY stamps, right! To me, the biggest difference with a linocut and a stamp is that with a linocut, you usually apply ink with the brayer and it's a re-usable, larger, more detailed type of option than a smaller stamp with ink pad. They also sell a really spongy, unmounted, super-easy to carve type of lino (it's like an off-white color) that I have used with fabric paint to make leaf stamps on upcycled purses and things like that. :)
TallTrav4 years ago
Lino prints are great! Thanks for placing it here and showing how simple it is to make something pretty and useful. Great job!
trucdart (author)  TallTrav4 years ago
Lino prints are addictive too! It really is easy with that transfer method. I can draw, but drawing something so that it will look right in reverse is a headache. I hope this method makes it easier for people. :) Thanks for your comment!
jnifrwebb4 years ago
I LOVE this. I bought a set of carving tools because I have read you can do this on erasers. When I get a little practice in, I may be back to ask a few questions.
trucdart (author)  jnifrwebb4 years ago
Thanks! I think I just saw a related 'ible on that very thing (erasers), may want to check that out too! Honestly, the linoleum blocks are so inexpensive that if you can imagine yourself wanting to use the same image over and over in the future, I'd recommend picking a couple up. Good luck!