Linoleum and Linocut
As a graphic technique linocut was born in the beginning of 20th century.Linoleum was invented as a printmaking material. It turns out to be not only the most popular. Affordable but also the most convenient and easy to use material. Linoleum is very easy to cut with a well-sharpened tool. It makes it easy to cut any width, depth and shape. Its surface is not too hard. Somehow rough. It does not allow one to make very slight or heavy scratches. Yet it is hard enough to engrave simple common furrows without damaging linoleum surface.
Linoleum is an excellent material to create large prints. Choosing linoleum as a printmaking material you can engrave much easier and faster rather choosing wooden board.
It is best to use a 5 mm thick linoleum for engraving, with a smooth surface not worns in order to prevent it from damaging while cutting it. It gets a bit harder because otherwise all prints might become blur. Linoleum tinner than 3-2,5 mm is not very suitable for engraving. Very flexible, curving materials containing fabric are not appropriate at all.
Usually linoleum has that particular surface relief
which is always slightly uneven and rough and needs to be very well polished. This process can perform itself by natural or artificial pumice. Partially the natural pumice must cut in half, so the two halves could be rubbed to each other until the surface become smooth and even. If you are not able to find any pumice you can use just as well a simple very fine sandpaper. After that linoleum surface must grind very gently, with no pressure until you get nice really fine and smooth surface. After grinding it you must wash it with turpentine in order to stabilize it and as a final step to stick linoleum to hard cardboard or plywood.
Basically once your surface gets ready you need to transfer your drawing onto it. Besides how we can do that? It is absolutely the same way as doing it onto wooden surface. Indeed you need to make a copy of your original drawing, or repeat it with very soft pencil. Stick the image to the linoleum surface and rub it against the board with turpentine or just rub it very persistently but gently in order not to damage the board.
Certainly engraving tools are V-shaped or semicircular chisels which one can also use in woodcarving.If necessary, use a very sharp knife as well as any other suitable cutting tools. The knife is mainly used for precise cutting of small parts, fonts, and etc.
There are also significant differences
between linnography and xylography. Xylography emphasizes stronger intensity of tonal colors, it is more colorful rather than black and white printmaking technique. Linocut uses mainly harsh black and white lines, strokes and spots even when we need to draw our composition with many variable tones which mingle slowly from white to black. Linocut images get very simple – no shadowing and undertint – harsh black and white areas. At the same time engraver always have to think about the drawing space and perspective – what comes in front, what stays in the background. The back color needs to look different at every drawing front and back stage no matter of the fact it is all one and the same black color.
It is necessary to make the whole engraving at once, at one breath, highlighting the bright areas with white. As you gradually reach the dark depths of linoleum using black and white connections, clarify the shape and build it gradually. When engraving the details, you need to imagine the entire image, the entire composition at any time of the process. In linocut, one should not forget the rule: “always be careful about black. It is very wrong especially when one is apprentice to cut every shape in the printmaking board with white even lines. That confuses all ‘çolour’ connections and destroys the artwork from the very beginning. White lines as black ones should always be in good balance depending of what the purpose of artwork is.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me!
©All images are copyright of Alexandra Duhlinska. They may not be downloaded, modified, altered or sold without the express written permission of the artist.