My Specialism: Why Lino?

Why Lino?

I caught the linocutting bug when I was studying on the Access Course in 2014. It’s hard to explain why, but fellow lino-cutters will understand why! I find it relaxing and soothing to carve, and exciting to see how the prints turn out because there is always an element of surprise.  

My first linocut was a reduction cut (nothing like starting off at the deep end!) of my eyes, taken from a pen and ink self-portrait. 

My first linocut: My Eyes [2015]
It is quite crude, with lots more marks than I would normally allow from cut away lino. Registration was a difficult concept, and something I often struggle with! I am currently exploring new methods for improving my registration making jigs from cardboard and using Ternes Burton registration pins which are brilliant. What I like about this work is the energy that is conveyed. The eyes are expressive but wary and that feeling of unease is carried over into the use of red and yellow – both of which are frequently used to convey danger. 

Initial reduction cut [2016]
A year later, I found myself in the first year of my degree and we got to grips with using the tools and working with creating pattern and texture. Another reduction cut, I worked through many colours and layers and explored mark making on lino. At this point, I enjoyed the carving and printing, but I did not enjoy the lino I was using, which was the traditional, hard hessian backed stuff. I still use it occasionally but I prefer using rubber based alternatives as they have less resistance and don’t need to be heated up in order to get a decent cut! 

The View from Church Lane Gallery [2017] – the first linocut that I have sold! 
Whilst my University practice was focused on cutting acrylic, I was spending my Saturdays stewarding at Church Lane Gallery. This gave me ample opportunity to design linocuts and also to carve them. This one was of the view from the desk, which interested me because of the variety of textures. It is also the first linocut I have sold, so thank you to the person who liked it enough to take it home!


Your Wild Hair [2017]
I’ve also branched out into playing with typography in lino. It can be a bit surreal when carving because it is back to front, but I am happy with the results I’m getting. The above lino is a quote from a newspaper’s missed connections section, I’ve picked a few out to create linocuts with as part of my Exploratory Practice unit, which I chose to focus on lino. I feel that by looking at different printmaker’s approaches to lino from what they use, to the styles they create I have helped to broaden my own practice. 

Working with lino has relaxed my expectations on myself because you get little accidents and imperfections whilst cutting and the odd unexpected surprise when printing. It is teaching me to work with what I have, rather than what I envisioned. 

I have used lino to create ceramics, and I would like to do more of that. I also would like to create some work that combines Linocut with collagraph and screenprinting and broaden my printing horizons a bit!

My Tools 

I started out with the red handled set that will be familiar to anyone who has tried lino, before getting the ABIG set from The Artery. As I got more serious I invested in a couple of Pfiel tools. The thing they don’t tell you is that once you’ve got a couple you want more! 

My Pfeil tools chilling out in their test tube rack!

As I use them at University as well as at home transporting them safely is important to me. I also want to protect the blades from going dull (although I have a blade sharpener and strop; it is much easier to work with nicely sharpened tools!) so I transport them in a strong box with corks to protect the blades. 

At home they are kept in a test tube holder I got from eBay. It cost me around £7 and is made from MDF and acrylic. 


I printed my ‘focus’ cut onto a small sketchbook using the Xcut Xpress.

Other things I have invested in included an Xcut Xpress and a converter kit from As it has an adjustable roller, it works well as a printing press. I can print up to a4, but about twice that in length. It took me a couple of goes to get the pressure right but I have created some prints I am really happy with on it, like the print above. 


What does Kitty rate?

Tools: ABIG interchangeable set and Pfiel tools. 

Lino: Non-traditional! I enjoy using easy carve varieties.

Ink: Caligo Safewash. I didn’t get on very well with waterbased inks!

Miscellaneous: Ternes Burton Registration pins. They have made such a difference to my prints when handprinting at home.

My trusty wooden spoon – it is so nice for hand burnishing! 


What comes next?

I have a piece in the upcoming Hatched 2018 Exhibition curated by Maga Esberg at the Jam Factory in Oxford. 8th March – 23rd April 2018

I am a featured exhibitor at Church Lane Gallery, Banbury from 2nd March to 31st March 2018

I will have some work in the window of the former Moss Bros shop in Banbury during March 2018. 


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