On Friday the 13th of May I got up stupidly early, took the tram to the station, sat on a train bound for Manchester and made my way to the absolutely huge Paperchase store that they have there. Now I like stationary as much as the next girl, but that’s not my reason for making the trek, oh no! I was going to learn a new technique for making things, lino cutting.
I’ve seen lino cut prints before but I’ve never actually tried it before, so when I was sent a link to the Paperchase Project craft workshops it caught my eye immediately and it turns out I bought the first ticket.
The class takes place on the first floor, but you have to pass through a mezzanine level to get there. The lass who was teaching us introduced herself, but I’m afraid I forgot to write down her name, so if you work at the Manchester shop please tell me so that I can amend this!
We were given a sheet of soft cut rather than lino as it’s easier to work with and doesn’t dry out a much, a brayer which contains the lino cutter handle and gouging tools, a ruler with a metal edging, a craft knife, a self healing cutting mat and a red thing to protect your fingers from the gouging tools. We trimmed off a small section of the soft cut and had a go at making some marks. I did try the red thing to start with but quickly put it aside as I have control over my own hands and it was getting in my way. I found the tool simple to use, holding it like a pen but there are different ways to hold it.
Once we had gotten the hang of using the gouger it was time to mock up some designs on plain paper. The key was to try not to be too intricate in the design to start with and remember that anything that you carve out will keep the colour of the paper or card that you are printing on and the remaining surface will keep the ink. I seem to be able to think in negative and positive space so I tried a few different ideas.
I settled on the henna style design (I’m saving the others for later) so copied it onto tracing paper, flipped it over and copied it across to the soft cut. Then it was time to get slicing into it and carve out my picture. I was doing pretty well and then was told that there was 20 minutes left in the session, so I got a bit speedy, ignored my gut and additional guide markings and carved out a bit too much from the middle for the flowers. Oops!
Once my stamp was ready it was time to move onto the printing. We used a large picture frame to squeeze the ink onto and a roller to spread it until it was a velvety texture. The ink is then rolled onto the stamp and the paper pressed on top. The barren is then rubbed over the paper, but I preferred to use the heel of my hand as it seemed to work better. The paper is peeled off and the design is shown!
I tried it a few time on different types of paper, the plain white to start with to check that it worked – this showed that I should have listened to my instincts because there’s a conspicuous gap in the middle but never mind. I think the prints came out pretty well. The course idea was for card making, but I wanted to learn to do this because I’d like to print on fabric and make stuff with it, so I’ll have to adapt the printing process a little bit. Here’s a few rubbish pictures of my prints, the gap does annoy me, but it was first go, so I’ll not be too hard on myself!
I would say it’s a great taster course, the leader was really lovely (I wish I could remember her name!) and even took some photos of mine after, hooray! We all got a 10% off voucher to use in store, and of course I did. I probably would have bought the stuff anyway, but getting a bit of money off always helps. If you are thinking of doing something like this then go on and give it a try, you might love it!
For my final picture we’ve got three stamps, the middle was my tester piece from the very start, the top the black rabbit from Watership Down that the session leader did and the bottom her cityscape that she used as an example.