Lino Blocks, Plates, Sheets and Rolls For Relief Printmaking

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What are we looking for in lino for printing?

There are a few factors which help to determine which lino is best for printing and also your budget and skill level.

Disposing of Lino Guide

Lino Toughness

Some lino for printing can be sold as soft/easy cut which is great if you are starting out, as they are usually cheap and easy to work with . Soft cut lino packs come in a variety of sizes and can produce high quality artworks, one downside can be that they do not hold as much detail when compared to more expensive lino.

Higher quality lino which is usually brown or battleship grey is the best choice for those wanting to create detailed lino prints. One of the downsides you will find is that the lino is tougher than the soft cut lino, it can be heated to soften when cutting.

Lino Strength

Soft cut lino blocks do not have any backing so can warp or break apart over time due to the pressure from printing. Most higher quality lino will come with hessian backing to reinforce the lino so that it does not break apart after multiple prints. You can also mount your link onto a wooden block or use something like fomex boards to help reinforce the lino plates.

Lino Colour

Lino printing blocks also come in a variety of colours, most cheaper blocks come in dark grey. You will find more expensive/quality lino is battleship grey or brown. Most people find it easier to work on battleship grey lino as you can easily see your design when drawing onto the lino with pen and pencil.

What Are Lino Blocks?

Lino blocks, short for linoleum blocks, are used in printmaking, particularly for creating linocuts. They consist of a sheet of linoleum, often mounted on wood, which artists carve into with various tools. Once carved, ink is applied to the surface of the lino, and paper is pressed against it to transfer the ink, creating a print. This technique allows for the creation of bold and expressive images, with the uncarved areas picking up the ink.

What Can I Use Instead of Lino Block?

Instead of lino blocks, you can use a variety of materials for similar printmaking techniques. Soft block materials like rubber blocks or foam are popular alternatives. They are easier to cut into but offer a different texture. For those seeking a more sustainable option, recycled materials like thick cardboard or old X-ray sheets can be used, though they provide a different quality of print. For a traditional feel, wood blocks are an alternative but require more effort to carve.

Can You Wash a Lino Block?

Yes, you can wash a lino block. After printing, it’s important to clean the surface to remove any residual ink. This can be done with mild soap and water for water-based inks or with a solvent for oil-based inks. Use a soft brush or cloth to gently clean the block without damaging the carved areas. After washing, dry the block thoroughly before storing to prevent mould growth.

How Do You Mount Linoleum Blocks?

Mounting linoleum blocks helps to prevent warping and makes them easier to handle during the carving and printing processes. To mount a lino block, first, choose a sturdy backing material like wood or MDF. Cut the backing to the size of your lino block. Apply a strong adhesive evenly over the surface of the backing, then press the lino block onto it. Ensure it is well adhered by applying pressure evenly across the surface. Allow it to dry completely according to the adhesive’s instructions before beginning to carve.

What Is Lino Made From?

Lino, or linoleum, is made from both natural and synthetic materials. The natural components include linseed oil, which is extracted from flax seeds, ground cork, wood flour, and rosin, a resin from pine trees. These materials are mixed together and then applied to a backing, traditionally made of burlap or canvas. In modern linoleum, synthetic materials such as vinyl may be added to improve durability and flexibility. This blend of materials makes lino both a versatile and eco-friendly option for flooring and printmaking.

What Are the Different Types of Lino?

There are several different types of lino, each suited to specific uses and preferences. Traditional linoleum blocks are made entirely from natural materials and are prized for their fine texture and durability in printmaking. Vinyl linoleum, containing synthetic components, offers more flexibility and a slightly different texture. Some linos are pre-mounted on wood or fibreboards for stability, while others come unmounted. The surface texture can also vary, with some linos being smoother for detailed work, and others more textured for a different ink transfer effect.

  • Classic Linoleum Blocks: Crafted from a blend of natural materials, offering a traditional printmaking experience.
  • Pre-mounted Linoleum: These come ready on a stable backing, simplifying handling and carving.
  • Flexible Linoleum Sheets: Unmounted and versatile, perfect for custom projects and sizes.
  • Easy-Carve Linoleum: Softer and smoother, designed for effortless cutting, ideal for beginners.
  • Soft Grey Linoleum: Known for its gentle texture, making detailed work a breeze.
  • Battleship Linoleum: Tough and resilient, best for enduring detailed and repeated prints.
  • Synthetic Linoleum: Blends in synthetic elements for a more flexible carving material.
  • Clear Linoleum: Transparency allows for precise alignment with underlying designs.
  • Jute-Backed Linoleum: Enhanced with jute fabric for extra durability, suited for larger works.
  • Gold Linoleum: Features a golden hue and ultra-soft composition, minimising carving strain.

How to Stop Lino Blocks from Cracking?

To prevent lino blocks from cracking, proper care and storage are essential. Keep lino blocks away from extreme temperatures and humidity levels, as these conditions can cause the linoleum to expand, contract, or dry out, leading to cracks. If the lino does become dry, you can gently warm it to make it more pliable before use. Storing lino blocks flat and supported helps to avoid warping and stress that could lead to cracking. Additionally, using a cutting technique that avoids deep gouges can help maintain the integrity of the lino block over time.