I like to make simple lino blocks to stamp designs on fabric or stationary, but the lino material is usually too thin to hold onto in order to get a good stamp.
This instructable provides simple instructions for using slices of a tree branch to make lino block holders. It also provides simple lino block carving and printing instructions.
Step 1: Gather Lino Block Carving Materials
You will need:
- a pencil
- a fine marking pen like a Sharpie
- a lino cutter set
- a carving material (linoleum, an eraser, or material from a company like Speedball)
You can use actual linoleum, from true linoleum tiles (Note - vinyl flooring, which is not made from linoleum, won't carve well - true linoleum is made from linseed oil and usually has a burlap backing), or use materials made specifically for lino cutting such as the ones illustrated above to carve your stamp.
Speedball and other companies make lino cutters, carving materials and dyes.
Step 2: Draw Your Design and Carve Lino Block
There are other instructables with detailed instructions on how to carve more complex lino blocks - for example, making a lino block card.
The basic steps are:
- draw your design on your lino block material
- go over it with a Sharpie or other marker so you can see it clearly
- carve your design, cutting away the part that you don't want to be inked as part of your "stamp"
Always cut with the blade facing away from you and your other hand, so if the blade slips, it won't cut you!
After using the lino cutter blades to carve the details of my ginkgo biloba leaf, and carving away the outside edges that I didn't want to be part of the stamp, I decided to completely cut away the outer edges around the leaf on one of my stamps so that there would be no chance that ink would adhere to those sections. I used scissors to cut away the outer edges. On the second ginkgo block, I left the edges in. Both methods worked.
Step 3: Make Holder: Find Branch and Cut Into a 3" Section
You can find a branch in your woodpile, or on a walk in the woods.
I took a branch to our local makerspace and used a mitre saw to cut 2" sections off the branch. A hand saw would work just as well.
I hand sanded any rough edges.
Step 4: Glue Branch Section to Lino Block
- Use a generous amount of E6000 craft glue to adhere the carved lino block to the branch section
- Let it dry for at least 24 hours before using it.
- Make sure you apply the glue evenly so that the lino block stays flat - high spots will affect the printing process.
The E6000 glue adhered well, and has survived multiple washings. (White glue will not be water resistant enough.) You want to be able to wash the ink, dye or paint off your stamp after using it, so it needs to be waterproof.
Step 5: Make Prints Using Your Lino Block Holder
You will need ink, and paper or fabric to print on.
There are several approaches to getting ink on your lino block:
- Use a roller and spread the dye on a piece of glass or other smooth cleanable surface, roll the ink to an even consistency and then roll the ink onto the stamp.
- Use a paint brush or a foam brush to apply the ink/paint/dye to your stamp
- Use a pre-inked stamping pad
I found that applying the paint with a foam brush was the easiest and didn't waste as much paint as using the roller.
Once the ink is on your stamp, press the stamp firmly on your paper or fabric, then gently lift it to reveal the print.
Step 6: Experiment With Printing Using Your Lino Block Holder!
The natural branch feels great in your hand and enables you to press down firmly and evenly to make your print.
Block printing is easy but the results will vary - printmakers enjoy the variations which make each print unique. I have experimented with different dyes, different printing mediums (fabric vs. paper) and different ways of applying the dye. A key factor is getting the right amount of dye and spreading it evenly on your lino block.
These 3 prints illustrate some of the variations. The first one is printed on fabric using a fabric dye, and the 2nd and 3rd examples are printed on paper - the 3rd one with a light green acrylic paint. Fabric will absorb more dye, and is more challenging - paper is a more forgiving medium.