Purpose: The purpose of this instructable is to teach YOU how to make a linocut of your very own.

What is a Linocut?: Linocuts are very similar to woodcuts. It is a printing method using a sheet of linoleum, in which a subtractive cutting method is used to take away the parts of linoleum where you want to leave the white of the page, and keep the parts you want to be inked! In the result you have a linocut that can reproduce the same image over and over again.

A Short History: While linoleum was first invented in the 1860s, it wasn't used as a medium for printing until the early 1900s in Germany, where it was first used for making patterns on wallpaper! Artists ranging from Pablo Picasso to Henri Matisse have made linocuts, and today it is considered a respected art form. Linocuts are also very popular in teaching children in schools about the rewarding art of printmaking.

Why linocuts?: First off, linoleum does not have a grain like wood does, meaning there is no need to cut in one direction. Also, it is much, MUCH easier to cut than wood, especially when heated. Although linoleum is not quite as durable as wood, you can still make hundreds if not thousands of copies of the same image with a single linocut before it is too degraded to use. Linocuts generally remind me of illustrated children books, which is a style I very much like. One can even make several linocuts to be used together to make a print including color, and in some cases (depending on the ink and paper you use) a linocut print can be colored after wards with your medium of choice.

So lets get started!

Step 1: Materials

You will need . . .

1. One sheet of linoleum!

You can get these at your local art stores such as Jerry's Artarama, or even at generic craft stores such as Hobby Lobby. The bigger you go, the more expensive the sheet, but generally they are not too expensive. If this is your first linocut, I suggest getting something around the size of 4" x 5". This way you do not have a giant piece to work on, but you also won't have to work with itty bitty details. For your first linocut, I suggest doing a simple pattern with no positive (left, uncut away) pieces smaller than half a centimeter. I know folks who buy linoleum for flooring when they find good deals, and use this for carving. I have never tried this, but only imagine it is much harder to cut than art store grade linoleum. Stay away from anything pink or white that claims to be good for lino-prints, generally it is a rubber that is much too soft, and you will hack it to pieces within seconds.

2. Linocutting tool with an assortment of blades!

You could buy several different handles with blades and v-cutters permenantly attached for about $7 each. I don't suggest this, as it is very expensive and simply unnecessary. Most art stores and some craft stores will sell a beginers kit that comes with one handle and 5 or 6 different blades for anywhere between $7 and $20. This is what I have, and it works perfectly! I bought mine from Jerry's Artarama for $14. There is a similar product here ( http://www.jerrysartarama.com/discount-art-supplies/Printmaking-Supplies/Speedball-Block-Printing-Supplies/Speedball-Lino-Cutters-Handles-and-Linozips.htm ) for those of you who would like to buy your tools online or who want to get an idea of what they are looking for.

3. A piece of glass! (At least 8" by 12")

You can get your piece of glass anywhere really. Many glass cutting stores will sell you scraps, as artists often use glass for pallets as well. I would get one that is at least the size of your common printer paper. I simply bought an old picture frame from a thrift store for $3, kept the glass and recycled the frame. You will be using this to roll your ink out onto before applying it to your linocut.

4. A brayer!

A brayer is very similar to a paint roller, but instead of the strange cushy material the roll itself is some kind of rubber. I suggest getting a hard or soft rubber brayer, and these will run from between $6 and $20, depending on the size and quality. I suggest getting a brayer that is at least 3 1/2" wide. Once again, these are found at art stores and in some craft stores. Here's an example. (http://www.jerrysartarama.com/discount-art-supplies/Printmaking-Supplies/Speedball-Block-Printing-Supplies/Speedball-Barens-and-Brayers.htm)

5. Ink!

You can also get your ink at an art store or craft store, but make sure it says on the bottle it can be used for print making! Any color you like will do. I found a nice little jar of navy blue speed ball ink for $4. A little bird told me once you can use slightly watered down acrylic, but I have never tried this.

6. Paper!

This is the paper you will be using to put your final prints on. If your ink is semi-transparent, you'll want a lighter color of paper. If the ink is solid and white, try some darker colors! I suggest artist's quality light weight paper, though stay away from anything that is very textured, such as heavy duty watercolor paper.

7. A dark magic marker!

8. A pencil!

9. An idea for your print!

For your first print, I suggest a pattern or drawing that does not have a ton of detail and without any shading. Try to keep your thinnest positive points (where linoleum is not carved away) about a half centimeter thick for your first print.


I cannot stress this enough. If it is your first time making a linoleum cut, I highly suggest you have a box of bandaids on hand. You aren't in danger of cutting a finger off while making a linoprint, but no matter how careful I am, I always manage to slice a finger or two. Some antiseptic ointment is a good idea as well!

<p>Agree about the bandaids. Suggest using on the knuckles of your carving hand. As you press deeply and focus on cutting, you won't notice until it's too late that you rubbing your knuckles on the surface. Nice to avoid with a pre-emptive bandaid.</p>
1. Is it possible to use acrylic paint instead of printing ink ? I tried this yesterday but results were not good.<br /> <br /> 2. It is possible to do the same kind of thing using balsa wood. It is just as quick as lino but there is a problem of cutting across the grain. Balsa is&nbsp; cheaper than lino so it is good for trying out designs before committing to lino. Balsa does work with acrylics<br /> <br /> 3. Even cheaper, in fact free, is to use styrofoam. This is used as food packaging. In the UK. It is used for boxes for takeaway food and for packaging pizzas. <br /> Styrofoan is quick and will take acrylics if it is sealed with printing ink first.<br />
<ol><li> everything's possible, but i wouldn't recommend it. it's a different consistency and bonds to the roller and the block differently, dries quickly, and can mess everything up when it dries. i'm not sure why you'd want to use it in the first place, though.<li>balsa wood is easy to carve, but it quickly degrades with use. and it's super absorbent, so the wood will actually swell and splinter and it's much harder to get a crisp image. The texture of the surface itself can also make for sloppy prints. if you want to try out a design, simply <strong>draw</strong> it, if it's not working as a drawing it probably won't work as a print. if you want to make a woodblock print, though, pine is usually the softest wood you can get that is still strong enough to survive the printing process<li>same deal as balsa, it's just not strong enough to survive printing, also the texture. I'm not quite sure why you want to use acrylic, though... shirts maybe? ink works fine for fabric. it doesn't sit on top like paint (or normal plastisol ink t-shirts, where you can feel the image on the fabric), but it absorbs into the fabric and stays.</ol>
&nbsp;1. I have heard it is, but I personally haven't tried. It probably depends on the type of acrylic. If I have some left over from a painting class I'm in right now I'll try it!<br /> <br /> 2. I have heard using Balsa wood, but I just figured it would be harder to use considering one has to consider the grain and I think it might dull your blades down a little quicker.<br /> <br /> 3. We have styrofoam here as well, though I've never tried it. Generally speaking I stay away from the stuff because it is pretty horrible for the enviornment, but finding a way to reuse it would be nice. I feel like it would be too easy to cut though, and that I would be bound to make more mistakes than I do with linoleum.<br />
If you have one of the counter top &quot;pastry boards&quot; with a &quot;lip&quot; on the edge that hangs over the counter top--USE IT for this as you brace the blocks against the lip that is on TOP of the counter. Of course you can add a lip on both edges of a wood cutting board or piece of plywood to make one. Do NOT place fingers in FRONT of your blade! This will help eliminate the dreaded--and dreadful--Finger Mangling. I have scars from this from 30 years ago! <br> <br>I wouldn't trade them but---better to prevent. <br> <br>You can also use a SHARP X-Acto knife to go AROUND the outline of your design sections as a guide line---you will not cut PAST that and it helps keep your edges crisp. <br> <br>If you play with this tech you will find that different blades leave many different edges and can be used for many different designs not just to remove the lino. Some I like are to leave the top &quot;ridges&quot; inbetween the cuts for texture. You can also &quot;chip&quot; away at the spots you want to for texture. it is hard to fix a small area if you mess up. But if you mess up a larger area you can carve out the whole section and glue on a NEW piece of lino and re-carve. <br> <br>For the styrofoam &quot;carving&quot; you don't actually carve--you just use something like a blunt pencil to impress the design--good for kids. There is a 'tute here for that! <br> <br>You can also print make using CRAFT FOAM--do a design; cut to fit a piece of scrap paneling or plywood or cardboard (if you only want to make a few copies) and glue on and ink. You can use this for Fabric Printing with acrylics and Fabric Medium (so the ink is not too stiff and scratchy) .
&quot;<a href="http://linomade.com" rel="nofollow">Linomade</a>&quot;
Lovely instructions. Could add using a baren or a wooden spoon for smoothing the paper down.
Great site on linocut. Do you mind if I use your owl image and this site to show my college level survey of printmaking class?? I will give all appropriate credits.
I don't mind at all! Go for it!
Thanks for making the supply list clear. It helped make my first cuts :D <br>(18&quot; x 4')<br><br>
Another way to do it is to put the inked block on top of the paper and roll over it gently with a clean roller, being sure to get every nook and cranny.
What I find to be a good indicator of well-rolled ink is the sound the ink makes when it's being rolled over. It'll almost sound like masking tape being peeled off of paper.
Also I use paper from my office for prints. This has been used on one side but works O.K. on the other - again free.<br /> <br /> Heavier art paper may need wetting a bit but the office paper can be used staright off.<br />
You do not use wet paper for lino cuts as it has &quot;lots&quot; of ink on the surface compared to other ways of printing. <br>Printmaking paper has less sizing (read glue to hold paper together) that would be the big difference in the ability to transfer ink to the paper.<br><br>The amount of ink that can be transferred has to do with the amount of pressure applied to the block as well. I have used printmaking paper and water color paper as well as drawing paper with great results. It does seem that it takes some time for the block to season and transfer the ink better. .
&nbsp;I have used office paper before, and while it doesn't look horrible, I find that unless the print is mainly empty space with a few lines, the paper warps as the ink dries.
Nice. This brought back some memories for me... I remember doing this at camp when I was a kid!<br />
This is a great tutorial!! Thanks so much. Also love your focus on safety :)&nbsp; <br />
&nbsp;Thanks! Safety is very important! About a week ago I was carving a large 16' x 20' piece of linoleum for a final project at university. I was talking to a friend and not paying attention and gave myself a nasty cut on my palm. Very deep, I almost got stitches! But right before we hopped in the car it stopped bleeding, so I opted for anti-biotic cream and a band aid.<br /> <br /> This is usually more of an issue for people like me, who are incredibly clumsy. Still, better safe than sorry!<br />
&nbsp;Owls! =D<br /> <br /> What's your experience with carving words in this medium? I don't mean the tiny little ones, but a good&nbsp;sizable&nbsp;chunk of font.<br />
<p>This gives me an idea.&nbsp; I have an Epilog laser, and I was thinking of using it to make woodcuts.&nbsp;</p>
&nbsp;I'll be honest, I know nothing about Epilog lasers. However, I would assume that it would make more accurate cuts, as well as making woodcutting much easier. Let me know how it goes if you try it!
That soft lino block stuff is great. Just be a little careful not to push hard, it takes almost no pressure to cut it. The best thing is that it minimizes cutting yourself! Better to ruin the block than injure yourself. Since it takes a good bit of pressure to cut linoleum, if the blade skips out of the lino and into your hand, it's going to cut deep. I&nbsp;know this from experience.<br /> <br /> The easy cut stuff also can be made into shaped blocks with ease, giving more flexibility and possibility for modular designs.<br />
Very cool
&nbsp;Thank you!

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a Wildlife Biology student at Colorado state university. I am very interested in trying to make my life style greener by the day ... More »
More by GraduallyGreener:How to Make Linocuts! 
Add instructable to: