Friday, December 18, 2015

Printshop holiday 2 -- linocutting

I wrote yesterday about the first day of my printing workshop at the Portland Museum, where we typeset and printed a short poem.  The second day we each cut a linoleum block to print the top of the broadside (technical printer-speak for a big piece of paper, suitable for display).

I was disappointed in the poem, from the standpoint of having to make an illustration to go with it.  Not that I have anything against horses, but I don't know how to draw horses, don't want to learn, and didn't want to make some lame picture that would look like third-grade-drawing-school-dropout.  So alone among my co-participants, I went abstract.

In four years of daily art I have discovered a personal affinity for the spiral and the eye; can't count how many times they have showed up in my hand-stitching and collages.  They have become my default imagery, and they stepped up to the plate again in the printshop.  I focused on the last line of the poem -- I want out -- and decided the trapped eye was an excellent depiction of that emotion.

I thought this was a pretty decent effort for my lifetime-first linoleum block.  There's only one glitch that I wished I had seen and fixed: the little ray in the iris that points toward 5 o'clock got a hair overcut.  But if I ever print the block again I can repair it first.

Here's Gray Zeitz, our master printer, getting my block on the press.  His meticulous makeready was fun to watch -- the block was a shade too low, so he built it up with several sheets of paper underneath -- and ensured a perfect impression when we printed.

Here's what the final broadsides looked like:

The full edition of prints contained 15 originals -- three different typefaces and five different linocuts. Every one looked great (mostly thanks to the guidance and assistance of Gray).  Before I forget everything I learned, maybe I can figure out to get some more press time.


  1. I agree; abstract was the way to go. Block and screen printing always send my mind to Corits Kent's work, back in the day.

  2. Qué bien participar en algo así. Admirable creatividad.

  3. An elegant solution from a thoughtful mind.