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  • Clare Morgan

The making of a linocut colour print

Or, more specifically, making a 2-plate, jigsaw, reduction lino cut print! I adore mixing up the processes to achieve the effects I want for a piece, and here's a step-by-step to her creation.

The piece is drying in the studio as I write this. I first carved a black and white version used as a key plate which contains all of the details and I decide what colours I want to place underneath it.

This is the black and white version alone, I wanted some vibrant colours, blues and greens to really create the feeling of renewal as its all about the new year.

Most of this process takes place on a second piece of lino, so I need to line up the lino and transfer the detailed plate to its surface so I know where to carve.

I print the original onto tracing paper and then print that onto a blank piece of lino, this gives me the detail I need to know where to cut. Using the tracing paper at this stage reverses the image so that it will line up when printing.

The background will be blue and there will be a copper shape adorning the goddess's head, these colours won't layer on top of each other well so I cut the plate into pieces so each piece can be inked up separately, ensuring they are printed side by side rather than in layers.

I'm using Ternes Burton registration pins (from handprinteduk) to ensure that the paper will always line up in the same place on the template as I print each layer. they have a great blog post about them here .

I used water-based ink for the copper and put it on first so it could be dry before I work on the rest of the piece. I then added the blue layer.

At this stage, it began to remind me of renaissance frescos of the heavens, and it seemed like a good start to this magical goddess vision I had in my mind. I would like to say I planned the colours, especially for such a big piece, but decided to go with it more intuitively on this occasion.

The next 2 layers involved reduction, a process where a piece of lino is carved away between colours. first, I carved the highlights and added a pale yellow using white and some extender. I then carved away anything that I wanted to keep yellow and added a layer of green to print on top.

The colours always look much darker on the paper than on the plate, so I always mix it lighter than I think and have a couple of 'sacrificial' prints so that I can adjust the colour if needed.

I'm using an easy-cut lino for this second plate, that because it's easier to cut and more flexible. I also don't need the intricacy required for the top layer, for which I use a battleship grey.

The yellow adds a heavenly glow! I used the roller to get a softer edge to this part so it would radiate from the figure a bit more and blend with the blue. I used an extender on the green to make it slightly translucent so it would appear softer against the layers underneath.

I do enjoy using an extender, it adds a softness to the colours that I love and allows layers underneath to be revealed slightly.

It has been quite a while since I created a print, and went big! this took 7 hours to add the colour to this piece and transform it from monochrome to colour.

I started with 12 pieces of torn paper, and there were a few ink splodges and printing errors... so the final edition ended up being 7 pieces.

The final prints are then editioned, signed and dated in pencil. Its the final touch that makes it complete.



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