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Learn More About Wood & Linocut Prints
A lino print—also known as a linocut—is a type of printmaking similar to woodcut relief printing. In both methods, an artist creates stunning artwork by carving and gouging into their chosen surface and stamping it onto paper. If the chiseled surface is wood, it’s considered a woodcut print; if it’s linoleum, it’s a lino print.
There are four main types of relief artwork: low, high, sunken, and counter. They all essentially refer to raised or sunken aspects of an artwork. Originating as a sculptural term, relief sculptures are made from and bonded to a background of the same material—picture a coin or Mount Rushmore. A coin is considered low relief because of the shallow depth between the sculpture and the background, while Mount Rushmore is high relief as it protrudes from the mountain.
In Egyptian hieroglyphics, writers often used sunken relief with the main elements of the image carved out to different degrees of depth. Printmaking employs a similar technique but in reverse—carving out the background completely and leaving the main elements in place like a stamp. As a result, woodcuts and linocuts are sometimes referred to as relief prints because they use a type of negative imaging called counter-relief.
Whether you prefer linoleum or wood, follow these steps to pull back the curtain on this mesmerizing process and try your hand at your own designs:
- Acquire a linoleum or wood carving block and a few carving tools. Etsy shops have everything you need to get started. Some even sell DIY kits.
- Draw a design directly onto the surface or transfer one from a sheet of paper. Remember that the image will be reversed when printed, so any writing will need to be backwards.
- Carve out the space you don’t want included in the image—this is called negative space.
- Pour a bit of ink onto a smooth surface like glass or acrylic and use a type of paint roller called a brayer to gently roll out a thin layer, evenly covering the entire design.
- Apply your paper. Many artists use card stock or even papyrus, as it bleeds less than regular paper.
- Apply pressure around the design either with a rolling pin, a printing press, or the back of a wooden spoon.
- Carefully peel back the paper and admire your hard work.