Which Products? An Insight into my Lino Printing Tool Kit

A few people have asked about the tools and products I use for my printmaking so I thought i'd give you the lowdown on what I use and any tips and tricks I have.


Carving Tools

This is where it's worth putting the investment in, the tools you use will make all the difference to your work and the enjoyment of the process (but saying that, there are loads of great and inexpensive tools on the market - these mostly come as sets with interchangeable heads). The tools I use are my beloved Pfeil Tools and they are fantastic! My go to three are a 0.5mm V tool and then a rounded groove, which im guessing is about 4mm and a larger rounded 8mm one. The V tool is great for fine detail as is the smaller grooved tool and then the larger one for clearing away large areas/background space. I find, if you hold them upright and twist you can create neat circles with the round tools too.

Ink

Hands down, my favourite ink is Caligo Safe wash. This range of inks is oil-based yet cleans up with soapy water (and a tip for getting the last residue from your roller or block is Cream Surface Cleaner - the kind you get in supermarkets in a yellow bottle) although looking at my inky rollers in the picture, I didn't do a great clean up job - however, I promise, it works! The colours are beautifully opaque and they mix well. Although, not intended for this, I have also found these work on fabric but the drying time can be weeks so bare that in mind.

For water based ink I have discovered Scola Block Printing Inks. These come in large bottles of bold colours and they are really great. The ink is nice and tacky and you can achieve great results. Speedball Water Based Inks are also fab and I really love their fabric printing inks too (I will go into more detail with a Fabric Printing Blog in the near future)

Inking Surfaces

I use a glass sheet (a disused cabinet shelf!) and I also use a plastic ink tray; you could be creative with this, as long as its a non porous smooth surface that you can wash in the sink.

Brayers

I have a few of these but the two I tend to use the most are the Soft Rubber Speedball type (with the red handles in two widths). I find that the coverage when using these is much better than with a hard roller and when the print is burnished a much more even print is achieved. This is especially true when using water based inks which are less 'tacky', however when using Oil Based Ink the harder rollers do produce good results.

Palette Knives

Not essential but handy for mixing ink or putting precious ink back into the tube to avoid wastage.

Ink Pads

The ink pads shown are what I use to test how the carving is going on the block and then just wipe away with a wet wipe to save time on a big clean up!

Paper

I use various papers for my Edition Prints and I particularly like Sumi-E paper because it is very strong, yet thin and delicate looking and when burnishing a print, you can see the ink showing through which helps to achieve an even result. In the photo above I have shown a roll of Japanese Rice Paper I use for testing my prints - this stuff is GREAT! It is inexpensive (around £10 for a roll that will last for a long time) yet takes the prints so beautifully! I also like Kent Printmakers Paper which is fairly smooth yet a much thicker feel and look to the Sumi-E - It's really down to personal preference and the choices are endless!

Block

This may be Printmaking blasphemy but I prefer working with the Blue Artway Easy Carve blocks to traditional lino, i have worked with both and it's just personal preference. I find they carve like butter and take very well to fine detail.

Baren

The Baren I use is a Speedball plastic one although I have my eye on some beauties. Particularly the Japanese Ball Bearing type or there are some lovely glass ones available. Alternatively, the back of a wooden spoon and some elbow grease will do the trick. Just think of your biceps after some serious printing sessions!

Craft Knives

Handy to have in your tool kit for cutting around your design if it doesn't have a background and also resizing paper.

Sharpie Markers and a Pencil

You can either draw your design and then trace with pencil and transfer to your block by rubbing over the underside of the tracing paper to transfer the image to the block. I recommend then going over the pencil with a marker so that when you are carving you don't rub off your pencil marks. Alternatively, if you're feeling brave you could draw your design straight onto the block. The Sharpie will be permanent but i don't find it transfers to my print and you can also get it to fade with Cream Surface Cleaner (this stuff is great to keep handy when Printmaking)


If you made it to the end, thanks for reading and keep you eyes out for more Blog Posts and new prints being added to my Website! I’m also happy to answer any questions so add a comment below or drop me a message!


Happy Printmaking,

Amy

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