Thursday 8 February 2018

Prototyping – getting ready to create a giant linocut

I had put forward a detailed proposal for a large linocut to go on the walls of the Macmillan Support Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital. On 16 January I learnt that the Macmillan project team, working on the new extension building work, had approved my artwork. It was finally all systems go!
I also now had a deadline! I started the next day on a quarter-size prototype to prove many of the technical challenges. I spoke to other printmakers for advice and input on printing big. I also planned out the full project.

Starting to cut the plate

The finished prototype
By choosing to use a reduction process for the A1 linocut, I’d added to the risks. It made sense for a short edition and reduces the amount of cutting and the volume of lino. It just adds to the tension.
The aim of the prototyping process was therefore to prove as many things as possible, before tackling the challenges of A1 itself. This included:
·         The minimum number of layers of colour & times through the press I’d need
·         The registration system, based on Japanese woodblock’s ‘kento marks’
·         The composition and design
·         The value of sanding the lino, as well as the quality of lino itself
·         The colours and contrasts in tone
·         If I could get smooth gradations of ink
·         The clouds...
·         Spot printing of the balloons, by hand
·         Drying times – allowing for ‘tonking’ with tissue
·         Whether Hot Bed Press’s largest etching press would do the job – on lino

The prototype is now finished and has turned out well. Phew! I’ve now started on the BIG one.
I’ve included images of the process, as layers of colour build up.

Colour 1

Colour 2

Colour 3

Spot colour

3 colours and spot colours

Removing the rest of the top section of lino after colour 3 & spot colours

Colour 4

Colour 5

Reduction is known as linocut’s ‘suicide’ process because after printing each colour, you cut more of the plate away, before printing a new colour. If something goes wrong - at any stage, even the final colour - you can end up with no successful print, or with half the planned edition. No pressure! Fingers crossed.
My main points of learning so far:
·         It takes a long while to cut the gutter, even at A3!
·         I only had A4 tracing paper to reverse the image - so had to buy A1 tracing paper fast
·         I needed more space for the image margin
·         The amount of ink needed is more than you think
·         Small rollers for spot colour worked well by hand – but not through the press
·         Some tweaks were needed to the composition and a few less successful details but overall the  image could be created with 5 layers and spot colours
·         Sanding the plate worked best
·         Staedtler Lumocolor permanent pen is not permanent with oil based ink!
·         Add more patterning and use mark making more as the scale increase
·         The etching press delivered
·         Kento registration worked well – the A1 version will have sharper edges
·         Multiple rollers work well with gradations, so no need for huge & heavy rollers

There are still plenty of challenges in moving to a bigger scale… Not least of which is transportation. Will the lino and prints fit in my car? I’ve bought A1 art folders to help. Will I need to trim down the 70 x 100 cm paper to fit it through the largest etching press in Salford? Can I manoeuvre the lino and paper on the press on my own?
I'll be blogging every few days as I set about creating the giant linocut.

To see more of my work, please check out my website: where you will also find an online Shop with currently available work. Thanks!

1 comment:

  1. A very busy couple of weeks to come C!!! Can’t wait to see the big one x