Relief Printing

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Relief Printing with Softoleum – Step by Step –

Printmaking allows for the creation of multiple original artworks

-Prints are not reproductions, they are not copies, prints are pulled from a matrix

-The matrix is destroyed either in the process (as in reduction prints) or after a finished edition

-The process of printing transfers an image from one surface (block, plate, stone matrix) to another (paper, cloth, other substrate) using a range of different methods.

-With the exception of serigraphs, prints result in a mirror image of the matrix.

Step 1: Sketch out your idea in multiple parts.

Plan for one or more colours. For a one-day project, all colours have to be printed from the same block at the same time.

Step 2: Compose your image on a piece of tracing paper that is the same size as your printing block. Use a soft pencil

Place the tracing paper onto the softoleum block, with the image side facing the smooth side of the block.

Rub the back of the tracing paper so that the drawing transfers onto the block.

You may use a marker to darken the lines on the block/matrix if you are working with a harder linoleum, but it is not necessary with the softoleum.

Step 3: With your Lino block on the bench hook, carve lines and outlines with a v-shaped cutter. The deeper you cut, the wider your line will be.

-cut away from yourself, keep hands behind the cutter, move the block not your body, to change direction

-slowly rotate the block to carve a curve or circle

Remember that every line and shape that you carve away, is gone for good. It will be depressed and will not pick up ink

To secure a drawn line, carve two grooves on either side of it.

To carve a shape, use a wider cutter.

Brush off the shavings.

Step 4: Print a proof

Scoop ink onto an inking slab, and smooth it out with the spatula. You might want to add glycerine to water-based inks in order to prevent them from drying out.

Roll out a thin layer of ink with the brayer.

Roll in the same direction, lift and roll rather than going back and forth

When the ink hisses as you roll, it is ready to be applied to the block

-cover the block in thin layers of ink, too think a coat will fill the grooves -apply ink by rolling the brayer in the same direction, lift and roll -roll back and forth to even out the final layer of ink.

Place the inked block on a clean surface.

Mark the paper and the block sizes on newsprint and lay a clean sheet of plexiglas over it

Place the block, ink facing up, in its marked place.

Line paper up with the edge of the mark, hold it at the edge and drop it over the inked block

Start rubbing the back of the paper, you can use a buffer sheet, until all the image has transferred

Test by lifting up one corner at a time, holding down the centre of the paper, to see if any areas need more rubbing

Step 5: Examine your print, and if you are satisfied, print your edition.

If you want to carve away more of the surface in order to better balance your composition, wash and dry the block. Remember to brush off the shavings again.

If you want to add colour to part of your image, wash and cut an area out from the block with an Xacto knife, ink it in a different colour, reassemble the parts of the block and pull your print.