Credit Card Machine Lino Printing




Introduction: Credit Card Machine Lino Printing

About: I make things, I am curious, and love learning and sharing.

This is a somewhat unusual way of making a beautiful lino-cut print using a credit card machine! If you don't have a machine to hand, they may be some around. I saw a credit card machine in a thrift store the other day, but you could also ask around in old businesses or offices to see if you can source one. If you really can't find one, this process also works with spaghetti machines and craft-embossing machines (see final step).

The prints I've made using this technique are almost as clear as using a large printing press. They make an excellent gift, or could be made into a book, or could be a workshop idea at your school or arts space.

I first learned this technique at Mission Grafica print studios from Marsha Shaw -an amazing artist and very knowledgeable print maker based in San Francisco.

SAFETY NOTE: this uses a sharp cutting tool, so be careful! Follow the instructions and never cut with your fingers in front of the blade (I have learned this the hard way).

CC variations update: some machines have two rollers one for the embossed CC number, and one for the vendor's ID number, this then, leaves the section between the rollers untouched. This technique only works with machines that have full rollers. (if you can't find a machine like this, have a look at the last steps for other machines you could try). Thank you to Jackie Kelly for pointing this out to me :)

Step 1: Gather Materials

Gather up:

  • easy cut lino to fit into machine
  • lino cutting tool
  • grip cloth
  • pencil

For making the print

  • finished lino block (above)
  • block printing ink
  • roller
  • A4 size perspex
  • spatula
  • paper 3x5" (white and/or colored)
  • scrap paper
  • credit card print press

Step 2: Design Your Print

Choose a design. Choose something simple, as there is only a small pace to work on. A good way to test designs is to fold a piece of A4 paper in 4, and draw out in each section. This will be about the same size as your print, so you’ll get an idea of spacing. remember whatever you cut will print in reverse


  • look in wildlife books, old sketchbooks, magazines for inspiration,
  • if you are making a book with your prints be sure that you have all images either portrait or landscape.
  • remember to make mirror text (it will print in reverse)

Step 3: Draw Design Onto Lino

Draw your chosen design onto the linoleum with an HB (or softer) pencil. You may decide to add to the design, you can do this at any stage but once you cut you can not change it! (I added a star, moon, and later the letters CAT!)

Step 4: Cut Lino

Place your lino on the grip mat and start to cut using the cutting tool. Cut away all the areas you want to be light, and leave all the areas you want the ink to print. This may seem counter0intuitive initially, but the more you do the more you get used to it! Take caution when using the blade, they are sharp! Always cut with your hands behind the blade and never cut into the direction of your hands.

Step 5: Prepare Ink

Put a 1cm blob of ink onto the perspex with your spatula. Roll the ink first in one direction then the other until you have spread it to a neat square (see image). The ink should not be too thick nor too thin. When it is the right thickness it should sound like hissing bacon! (remove or add more ink if needed to get this thickness).

When you have the right thickness, cover the roller with ink, and carefully roll this onto your lino-cut in both directions. Make sure all is covered, don't roll too hard or you will loose detail.

Step 6: Put Through the Press

Prepare the machine by sticking some card (this provides some cushioning). It is good practice to register your print. This is especially important if you are making a multi-colored print (see next step). To register use a thin sheet of paper that fits into the press, but is bigger than your printing paper. On to this sheet, draw around the printing paper with a pencil, then draw around the lino where you would like it to be positioned (usually in the center). You can then put this paper into the press to line up your paper to your lino, and you can use it again so that you can line-up multiple prints.

When you have registered, put the inked lino-cut onto the credit card machine facing towards you, and then add your printing paper. Put another think sheet of paper on top of all of this and then....swipe your print in both directions! You should end up with a printed paper like the image of the cat print.

Each credit card machine may be a bit different. If it is too stiff then use thinner card, if it is too easy and does not print, add more card on the top and bottom for padding.

Step 7: Two Colour Prints and More....

Here are a few tips for going further:

Two Colors

One way of making two color prints is to simply print one color, wait for it to dry, then go through the process again with another color. When doing this, be sure to register your lino and paper the first time you print.

Other Presses

You could also experiment with other presses. Die-cutting or embossing machines also work really well. I found that when using this I had to put a lot more padding in than the credit card machine, as you need to have the right pressure to transfer the ink to your paper. I've also heard that spaghetti machines are another option (but not tried it!).

Step 8: Share Your Prints!

Congrats on making a DIY printing press and prints, I'd love to see what you make :)

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    5 years ago

    Great idea! If I find an old credit card machine, I will try this!