Today I am carving a design based around the Native Rhododendron. Currently this species is just starting to bud in my garden – it has gorgeous deep red bell-shaped flowers and dark green leaves. This linocut is part of the Design Art series I am working on.
I have highlighted different sections of this linoblock to indicate the process and stages of carving the linoblock. The image on the left is the black and white ‘template’ I work from so that I carve the correct sections.
* After transferring the image to the linoblock I then carve an outside ‘line’ around the section of the block I am working on – this can be seen by the orange section of this image. I use a no 1 blade (speedball) for this process. This is a small sharply shaped ‘V’ gouge. I find it is important to maintain a sharp blade to keep this line clean.
* The grey section of the image shows how I then take a no. 4 wide blade to ‘scoop’ out inside the sections I wish to be the ‘white’ part of the print (after printing the linoblock with oil-based ink I can then handpaint these ‘white’ sections of the printed dried design as I require). This particular blade is shaped like a flattened deep ‘U’. You can also then use a no.2 or no.3 blade (bothe these are like widened between the ‘V’ and ‘U’ shapes) to get into the narrower sections. The deeper the carved out sections the whiter the image so if you want to create some texture within the design you may wish to leave some raised sections of lino that the ink can pick up when you are printing.
* Finally the natural brown colour of this particular lino indicates where I have revisited the edge of these scooped sections and the original fine outlines and create clean, neat edges for printing. This is what the final block will look like when I am finished.
Remember that I am carving this way to create a particular ‘look’ about the finished design. You may wish to carve more roughly and create ‘texture’ in the way the ink is applied to the linoblock. I do think it is important to experiment with the different types of blades and styles of carving and see what type of effect may be created by using different methods of both carving and printing. In this way you may then choose to create a particular style or ‘look’ about your work or a particular series of prints.