What is a Linoleum Block Print?
Printmaking is a little known form of art that has been used throughout history by many artists including Picasso, Dali, Gauguin, and most notably, Warhol and Durer. Early forms of printmaking can be traced back as far as 4000 B.C., when the Sumerians created stamping devices to press into clay. However, printmaking, as we know it today, started with sixth or seventh century A.D. Egyptians who created woodblocks to use for printing on textiles.
There are many different types of printmaking: etchings, lithographs, collagraphs, screen prints, and block prints. All require complicated processes and a series of steps to create an image.
The method of printmaking that I use, block or relief printing, is actually a type of flat sculpture. More specifically, my prints are called “linocuts,” since I carve all of my images out of sheets of linoleum. Essentially, I am carving my own giant rubber stamps and rolling ink onto the surface to press them onto paper.
I start with an original image or drawing that I reproduce in reverse on a sheet of linoleum. Then I use a carving tool called a “linocutter” to carve out all the areas that I do not want to print (the white areas or those where I want to keep the color of the paper underneath). Afterwards, I use a special roller called a “brayer” to roll layers of ink onto the surface of the linoleum. I then press a sheet of paper to the linoleum either by using a manual-cranking printing press or by hand with a hard, sturdy surface such as a wooden spoon. When creating a multi-color print, I use either a reduction method which consists of carving out one color at a time from the same block of linoleum and re-printing repeatedly on top of the previous colors, or I have to carve a separate block of linoleum for each consecutive color.
All of my prints are limited editions, signed and numbered. Each image is of an original design and all of the numbered pieces are considered to be original works of art. Because the printing process is time consuming and it is difficult to maintain consistency in the quality of prints, I print very small editions.
The linoleum blocks wear down after a number of prints are made and must be discarded. Because of variations in the amount of ink and pressure used to create a print, no two prints are exactly alike. I use high quality papers and various types of oil and water based inks, and I frequently experiment with techniques and materials. I also make custom designs: churches, schools, and public buildings are most suitable for multiple replication. Please tell me what you enjoy about my work and feel free to ask additional questions about the printing process and product availability.