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What Is Lino Printing?

Lino printing is a form of fine art printmaking.

A Short History.

While linoleum was first invented in the 1860s, it wasn't used as a medium for printing until the early 1900s in Germany where it was first used for making patterns on wallpaper. When artists such as Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso started using linoleum in the early 1900s, its popularity grew.
In the late 1950s, Picasso advanced linocuts in fine art by developing the reductive printmaking technique. Picasso’s first prints in the early 1950s were made up of bold and simple images. He began experimenting with creating multiple colour prints using a single block.and today it is considered a respected art form.

How did linoleum printing come about?

Traditional wood and metal block were expensive and time consuming to create. As a printing material, linoleum is cheaper to produce and offers an easier surface to carve than wood and metal, especially when heated. It isn’t as tough as metal, and doesn’t have the surface grains and patterns of wood.
Linoleum started out as a cheap alternative and was often used by amateurs or as a teaching product in schools but is today considered to be a respected art form.

Modern day linocut printing.

The linocut technique of printing has risen and fallen in popularity over the years, with artists like Picasso and Matisse popularising and demonstrating the potential of the technique, its acceptance as a fine art practice was solidified although it is practiced more rarely nowadays.

What is a Linocut?

Linocut is a printing method using a sheet of linoleum, in which the surface is cut in-to using special tools. This method is used to take away the parts of linoleum where you want to leave any white spaces on the paper and keeping the parts you want to be inked. This method leaves you with a linocut that can reproduce the same image over and over again.
Lino, after being cut or carved into, is then inked, a piece of paper placed over it and then run through a printing press or pressure applied by hand to transfer the ink to the paper. The result is a linocut print.

The linocut printing process.

A design is drawn onto the lino.
Areas to remain white on the print are carved from the block first.
Ink is rolled onto the raised areas, starting with the lightest color.
The lino block is placed into a registration board.
Paper is placed on top of the lino into a fixed position.
Pressure is applied to transfer ink from block to paper.
Paper is removed, with the image appearing in reverse.
The inking process is repeated until all the prints in the edition are made.
Once printing of the edition is complete, further prints cannot be made from the linoblock as the lino is destroyed in the process.
Every print in an edition has been individually made by hand, thus giving it a unique quality. On the completion of the edition each print is given a title, signed and numbered.

Colour reduction.

With a colour reduction print, multiple colours are printed from the same block. The lino block is covered initially in the lightest colour, either uncut or with only a few cut lines, and printed on the paper. The block is then cut into again, and a second colour is used (which means that in some areas the previously printed colour still shows up on the paper.) This process is repeated for each colour.
Reduction linocuts are printed from one piece of lino by cutting it again and again for each new colour in the design. All the prints for an edition have to be printed before you move on to the next colour, because once the lino is recut you can't make any more.

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