Linocut printing without cutting lino (tutorial)

Ta da! Two "linocut" cards for your viewing pleasure.
Every year I want to make my own Christmas cards, but never actually get round to it. I then spend the rest of the festive season wishing I had got my arse in gear. This year I have finally done it and made not one, but four different designs! This is a tutorial for the technique I hashed together for my first two designs. I may or may not do further tutorials for the other designs depending on how the mood takes me.

It's my first tutorial, so please bear with me. The photos are awful, but I had only a camera phone and a toddler "assistant" at my disposal. Feel free to ask questions if it doesn't make sense. And if you're a bona fide linocutter, I apologise for bastardising your fine craft.

Equipment & Materials
  • Foam tray
  • Greaseproof paper or tracing paper
  • HB pencil
  • Sticky tape
  • Pointy implement for poking said plate
  • Acyrlic paintor ink
  • Paintbrush
  • Random vaguely Christmassy yarn and embroidery thread for embellishment
  • Can of hairspray or other cylindrical object
  • Blank cards

Step 1
Foam pizza base thingy and a foam plate.

Spend a lot of time thinking about what you could use instead of lino for linocutting. Waste more time googling linocutting kits and recoiling in horror over price. Finally remember that the pizza you had two days ago had a foam plate and root through rubbish bin to retrieve it.

Step 2
Robin card sketch.

Having already had your "ah ha!" design moment in the shower, sketch your design on a random piece of paper. It doesn't need to be a work of art - simple and bold is the way to go. Then draw round your card blank and be happy that fortune has smiled on you and it will fit on the cards all nicely.

Step 3
Design traced on to greaseproof paper, minus some details.

Trace your design on to the greaseproof paper that you've liberated from the kitchen. Make sure you cut off only the small square that you need so that there will be a funny and not really usable shape for any future legitimate cooking purpose.

Step 4
Transferring the design to the foam plate.

Stick your greaseproof paper to the foam plate with the tape. Scribble over the design to transfer it to the plate. It helps if you have turned the paper over first so that you are not simply obliterating your efforts.

Step 5
Ready to poke? Yes, siree!

Grasp your poking implement - I used a blunt probe from my old Zoology dissection kit - and carefully poke around the design. Once you've gone around the whole thing, gleefully poke, poke, poke in all the white space and squash it down with the handle of your poking device. This step can prove satisfyingly annoying to your other half who is playing an equally annoying racing game on the PS3.

Step 6
Ink up your block. I used acrylic paint.

Cut round your newly created printing block and tape it to the table. Carefully apply paint with paintbrush and lay a piece of scrap paper over the block. Squash it down with your fingers, being careful not to move it. Then roll over it with your can of hairspray (no, don't bodily roll over it while holding the can...).

Step 7
Carefully does it. Ooh the anticipation...

Peel back the paper and behold the wonder that is your printed design! If you're happy with it, repeat step 6 with your blank cards. I managed to eke 19 cards out of mine, but after that the printed image was getting too fuzzy. 

Step 8
Embellish away, my friends!

Once the cards have dried, embellish them however you see fit - I used a red ink pencil and some sparkly yarn from my stash for one design and some embroidery thread for the other.

Step 9
Dither about how to print the greeting inside and wonder if you will actually manage to post them before the last posting date. Finally decide to use some proper stamps and then wait impatiently for them to arrive in the post. Continue waiting and start waking up in the night panicking about it. [Note: still waiting...]

And there you have it. If you try this out I'd love to see your efforts.


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