Make your own versatile stamp(s) using this simple technique. Cut an image or design out of lino, glue to a cork block for ease of handling, then ink up and get printing! Have fun and experiment – make repeating patterns, text blocks, overlay your stamp onto existing prints, it can be as simple or elaborate as you wish.
• Tracing paper/ Plain paper
• Graphite stick/ soft pencil
• Non-stick mat
• Lino (supplied)
• Lino/relief cutting tool (one supplied)
• Stanley knife
• Cork block (supplied)
• Glue gun/ Evostick exterior glue
• Printing ink (relief or intaglio)
• Acrylic sheet/glass slab/ or any smooth flat surface for rolling up ink
• Roller (or paintbrush etc, whatever means you have to apply ink to the lino surface)
• Paper –thinner sheets are better for hand burnishing, otherwise you can stamp on to whatever surface you wish!
• Wooden/metal spoon/baren
- Draw an image/design onto the surface of your lino, use either blue or green side it does not matter. This can be done with a pencil and then when you are happy go over your image with a Sharpie or permanent marker so you can see where to cut around your image. This is a relief process, so remember whatever you cut away will be white and whatever you leave will be printed. Your image will also appear reversed when it is printed, you may want to trace a mirror image onto your block if this is an issue.
2. Use a relief-cutting tool to remove the lino you do not wish to print; there is one provided wrapped in the scrim in your packs, but please use whatever other tools you have. Use a non-stick mat underneath the lino, this will help to stop it moving around when cutting.
3. Do a rubbing of your lino on to plain paper or tracing paper with a graphite stick/soft pencil to see how your cutting is progressing. This shows you what will print and helps to identify areas of undesired lino to remove.
4. When you are happy with your linocut you can stick it to your cork block. Use a glue gun if you have one, or something like Evostick exterior glue. Put your cork block on a flat surface and apply glue to the cork surface to cover the entire area of the lino you are applying. You can always draw around your lino/lino pieces to work out exact locations on the cork block before applying the glue. Place lino onto the glued areas and press down firmly, leave a light weight on top such as a book until dry.
5. Roll out an even area of printing ink with a roller.
6. Roll over the lino surface of your stamp until it has a good even coating of ink. If there are any areas of lino that pick up ink at this stage that you do not wish to print, you can remove them ink with a rag. You can then cut away these areas after printing with your cutting tools.
7. There are different ways you can print your stamp – one method is to place a sheet of paper on top then hand burnish with a wooden spoon or baren. Thinner papers are ideal for this as sensitivity is greater when burnishing, you will be able to see impression coming through from the back of the paper as you start rubbing and then you can tailor your pressure and coverage accordingly.
8. You can also use your stamp like a conventional stamp, by inking it up then printing it face down onto any surface you wish, as many times as you like.
9. After printing clean your lino block with a rag and some vegetable oil or white spirit. Even a baby wipe will do!
Try inking up in different colours, or apply the ink with a paintbrush, sponge or rag. You can draw into, or remove, ink after application.
Overlay different stamp printings, or onto existing prints or prepared surfaces.
Cut the lino into shapes or trim down where necessary using a Stanley knife, use the sides of the cork block as well, or cut the cork block up to make smaller stamps.
Wrap twine/string around a block or stick on other textured materials to create different printed impressions.
- If the impression is blurry or blobby, there is probably too much ink on the stamp. Press the stamp
- If the impression looks faint, apply more ink or more pressure.
- If the impression is blurry or blobby, there is probably too much ink on the stamp. Press the stamp several times on scrap paper to remove excess ink and try again
- If the impression is uneven, you are probably not using consistent pressure (however this may be a desired and interesting effect!!) – practice pushing down evenly on scrap paper first.
Lino recommended- Relief Printing Vinyl, a soft Japanese block especially designed for relief printing.
Table top Print Projects have been written by the Rabley Drawing Centre tutors for Rabley printmakers. They are free for anyone to use and we have included useful supplier links. All images and texts are copyright of Rabley Drawing Centre CIC and the authors. We plan to launch have new project each Monday for the coming weeks.