Although it’s lovely to have our well stocked printing workshop, when it’s necessary to print at home one of the easiest processes to get set up for is Lino Printing. In the Letterpress workshop we use oil based inks and a galley press to print with, but this specialist equipment isn’t absolutely required. With a few substitutes and a bit of clever thinking you can easily print at home.
First you’ll need the obvious, like pens, pencils and paper. For Lino Printing you’ll want paper without much tooth. Drawing cartridge, regular sketchbook paper and sugar paper all work excellently. A Stanley knife comes in really handy for cutting lino to size. Masking tape is useful for making registration pages. You’ll need tracing paper to transfer your designs from sketchbook to lino and a Sharpie is the best thing to draw onto your lino with to finalise your design – pencil rubs off too easily.
Lino tools come in many forms, but the cheap-and-cheerful ones are perfectly acceptable for carving Easy Cut Lino at home! Here are a few links to tools I recommend:
Lino Cutter with variety of nibs – best for making a variety of marks
Lino Cutter with Selection of Nibs and Brayer – Most useful if you only plan on buying one roller. The flat Brayer included in this kit is used by rubbing on the back of your paper once it is placed on your inked up lino to create a print.
Rollers are used to spread ink into a thin layer and then used to roll the ink onto your carved lino piece. You will need to buy at least one.
This mid-sized roller is most versatile for the size of lino you will be using.
If you buy two one can be used for inking and one can be kept clean and used to print with. When your lino is inked up and paper placed on top you can use your roller to roll on the paper with good pressure to create your prints. Alternatively you can buy the kit with a flat Brayer which can be used to print with. If you find yourself in a real pinch you can use a wooden spoon to rub in a circular motion on the back of the paper to create a print!
In the Letterpress workshop we use oil based inks which need white spirits to clean up. At home you can use water based inks or oil-based-water-washable inks. A downside to water based inks is they can cause ripples in your paper so you need to make sure you’re rolling a thin layer of ink.
Inks for lino printing can go by many names. Any of these are acceptable – lino ink, block printing ink, relief ink. Here are a couple of links to inks I recommend:
Oil Based Water Washable ink. A bit more expensive but will give a nicer finish and is closer to what we use in the workshop.
This Block Print Medium can be used by mixing with Acrylic Paint to make the colour you want. This will be more cost effective if you want to use a few different colours in small amounts.
In order to roll out your ink you can buy an ink tray here. However, I usually just roll out on a flat sheet of perspex or a piece of acetate secured to the table with masking tape. You just need a flat, smooth, washable surface.
Finally of course you will need lino. We usually provide a6 and a5 sheets of Easy Cut lino which can be bought here. Use a Stanley knife to cut the lino into smaller pieces if needed. Easy Cut lino is best as it is easy to cut (as the name suggests!) and it is less harsh on your lino tools meaning they will stay sharper for longer.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the choice you can buy this all in one kit. I would only suggest this for complete beginners, though. The roller is small, the pieces of lino are small and there isn’t much variety of shapes in the nibs provided.
NOTE – There is a huge variety of equipment out there. These recommendations are my own opinion on what is most suitable for home use, and neither I nor the University benefit in any way if you follow the provided links to purchase these items.