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Linocut – The Mirror Test

heartpattern

I made the critical error of not reversing the type on my last linocut. At the same time as I penciled “Love” incorrectly, I also penciled “I love you” on another block. As I sat down to correct this second block, I realized that holding the block up to a mirror would be a good way to check that the print will read correctly.

Holding the corrected block up to the mirror:
mirrortest

After passing the mirror test, I carved this little block. Here is the print:
iloveu

I need to take more care when I draw the letters. I thought I could easily carve them, and make them look more square, but they came out raggedy. So, I decided to cut the top piece off and create a pattern using just the heart. (First image in the post.) Even though the heart was also raggedy, I like how the pattern came out. The roughness gives it character.

I was off to a great start with linocut. I was so happy with the results of my owl and the acorn. But the last two have been much less successful. I think I need to plan and sketch more carefully and (like anything worth doing) I need to practice with the tools. Also, as a beginner, working on small blocks isn’t helping me. I need to work larger.

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My First Linocut!

finallinocut
Finally I sat down and carved my first linocut. It’s amazing – when you make a date with yourself and commit, you follow through. I had been putting it off, sketching ideas for the design, until I realized the design didn’t really matter – it was about trying out the tools and learning the process.

Linocut Tools:

I sketched an idea I had in pencil, directly onto the “Speedyball Speedy-Cut Easy” block. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to attach the carving blade to the handle, but I got it. I was surprised at how easy it was to carve. I carved around the trees first. For the owl I used a thinner blade to add texture (to show the feathers). I messed up with the beak when I momentarily spaced on what I was supposed to carve off – the negative space. But again, this is a learning process.

I used the back of the block, because I wanted two colors. I transferred the eye shapes over to the back with tracing paper – although they mostly fell within the moon. These fine details didn’t really print in the end. And I did it wrong – it should have been the mirror image of the eyes and moon. Imagine my surprise when the moon ended up on the left instead of the right. There were other mistakes: I should have wiped the carving before printing. I didn’t carve deep enough, but this led to a happy accident because I liked the texture it added and the yellow through the print. I can’t wait to do another one!

Here are my steps:

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