linocut tools you should try now that you wish you had discovered earlier
Embarking on lino cutting I got started with the kit most printmakers start with, the trusty Esedee lino tool, roller and ink set. Unable to screenprint in the studio I was ‘just dabbling’ to be honest; I thought that the technique was a bit too graphic and illustrative for my style of artwork and didn’t envisage it going anywhere. I now love it!
When I started to use reduction printing and could really capture the form, or layer inks to get more painterly effects I started to invest in the process and there are some tools I now couldn’t imagine not using. So I thought it would be good to share!
I love ink drawing, and working with fine lines to build up the form, and wow! These tools are fine, sharp and durable. My first purchase was a 12/1 a very tiny ‘V’ shaped tool and it really was a game-changer, I found that I could start to carve in a way that was more in keeping with my style. It is still my go-to tool.
These carve through the lino so beautifully and easily, it makes the process enjoyable, the shape of the handle fits perfectly into the palm of my hand allowing me to carve in a natural intuitive way.
The flat base stops them from rolling about when not in use. I now have a small range of tools, and every so often I add another to the collection, I know these are well made and when looked after will last! So definitely a good investment.
Consider building a collection to suit the style of your ‘drawing’ it’s good to have a small ‘V’ shaped gauge for outlining, it prevents crumbling and is very accurate. I use a large U gouge 9/5 for shifting larger areas after the more accurate work has been done with the smaller tool. My small U shaped gauge 11/1 allows me to spin the plate around while carving for the more curved lines I need in the imagery.
This is a recent discovery, it smells quite pleasant and works really well at cleaning up oil-based inks. It’s much safer than using white spirit and means that my studio remains smelling zesty and inky!
A rubber ink roller
A hard roller can often miss bits, so a softer one is a must, my first budget option was a black-handled Esedee one which worked well, and recently I got this wooden-handled roller, which applies ink smoothly and consistently. If you are new to lino, the blue handled Esedee roller is a great starter roller rather than the harder red one.
After investing in such good tools, and experiencing the joy and ease of working with a sharp tool it’s important to keep them sharp. This is where the slip strop comes in! It polished and debrides the tools razor edge and has been designed to get right into the insides of the tool. It comes with an abrasive compound, and I can feel the difference when I am stropping the tools regularly. There will be a time when they will need to be professionally sharpened, but this is a great way of keeping them in shape.
Caligo safe wash inks (relief inks)
Oil-based inks, that wash up with soap and water! I love adding an extender (which I love so much it nearly had its own category) to make the layers transparent before overprinting, they can take days to dry but the ink is luscious, silky and highly pigmented.
Battleship grey lino
It’s biodegradable, easy to carve, easy to transfer your drawings onto, and you can ‘carve and flick’ to get a wide range of different textures and marks. It also smells lovely and natural and is beautiful to work with.
I mostly purchase my print supplies from www.handprinted.com, they are really helpful. I have also used www.jacksonsart.com and www.intaglioprintmaker.com are great places in the UK to get your supplies.
I hope this inspires you to explore different tools, it can make such a huge difference to the experience of lino printing! I would love to see what you create too, #stay_curious