I’ve been carving stamps for a while now, and the natural next step seemed to be learning how to carve linocuts. I rather naively thought this would simply be a matter of learning how to carve a different material, but it’s more complicated than that. It’s a related but different visual language. Some of my more intricate stamps could work as linocuts, but in general, a linocut is more graphic, with the hand of the artist more visible. The goal in a stamp, generally, is a clean design. Linocuts have more depth, and that’s the best I can do at trying to describe how it’s different. My first attempt at linoleum wasn’t terrible, but it was hesitant. My lines were thin and few. Linocuts, I believe, thrive on boldness.
So, I did what I do when I want to learn something, and I ordered a book. The book suggested first making a sampler block, and that is such a wise suggestion it seemed obvious once I read it. One of the first things I made after learning to knit was a sampler (from Jacqueline Fee’s Sweater Workshop). Samplers are excellent first steps.
The book is Learning Linocut by Susan Yeates, and the block was divided into six squares. I used each of my five blades in one square each, and then combined them in the final square. The idea is to see what the blades can do. With stamp carving, I’m trying to get a nice smooth line without tearing the carving material. Because lino is firmer, it’s possible to use the blades a little differently, scooping or twisting for different effects and textures.
I also learned it’s hard to take a test print on regular paper; I needed to use actual printmaking paper for a decent print.
I’m looking forward to trying to get better with this art form. It requires a different way of thinking about the final image. I like that it’s a challenge; that means I’ll (hopefully) be able to see my improvement as I keep at it.
The lino print was created at the end of a session which began with textile ink and fabric stamping and then moved into stamping some plain Kraft Moleskine notebooks. I ordered a set of three of these with the intention of decorating the covers myself. On one, I stamped my tree inspired by the Duncan Scarf at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
I then added color with colored pencils.
I am very happy with how this turned out. I’m using this notebook to collect the random quotes and phrases that I enjoy–often for no particular reason than I like the way the words flow.
On a second notebook, I printed my labyrinth stamp.
I then added lettering, because this is intended to be a gratitude notebook.
In the same order as the linocut book, I received Creative Lettering by Jenny Doh. I’d like to get better with my lettering, too.
I wasn’t sure what to do with the third notebook, so I left it for now. When it becomes clear what it should be, I’ll know. Meanwhile, it was good to have some time to work on my own ideas, finally. It makes me feel better able to attend to everybody else’s needs here.