For our final project in the printmaking class, we had to create an artist’s book. We could choose the subject and also the method. I decided to create a book about our Schnauzer, Gromit, and use the reduction linocut method. I found the reduction linocut method to be very time-consuming and unforgiving (if you make a mistake, you can’t correct it). It was, in spite of that, very interesting, enjoyable, and quite rewarding. I’ll explain the process using the print below.
First I sketched my print 0n the linoleum block. Then I inked the block with yellow using a brayer. (You always start with the lightest color, then the next lightest, etc. because you will be printing over the colors). Then I ran off fifteen copies using the printing press. Next, I cut out all the yellow leaves. Then I inked the block with orange and ran the “yellow” prints through the printer. Now my print was completely orange except for the cuts I made which were yellow. Then I made cuts for the orange leaves, inked the block green, and ran the prints through again. Now my prints were green except for the orange and green leaves. I followed the previous steps with the light gray, the dark gray, and finally the black for the eyes, nose, and mouth. One of the major problems is registering the prints each time you run a printing. If they’re not lined up properly, you could end up with the eyes, nose, and mouth somewhere other than on the dog’s face. One other thing that one has to remember is that your print is always a mirror image of the block. Notice on the tombstone that RIP is backwards because I forgot to cut a mirror image on the block. The final step is to set the type and run the prints through the press one last time. Below is the block after the final printing. You can see that only the eyes, nose, and mouth remain.
Below are the other three pages that I completed.
I did have a problem deciding how to cut Gromit. I experimented with different methods as you can see. As I said above, once you make a cut on the block, there is no going back. The next time I am going to put the red scarf on each printing as I think that will be a good way of separating the head from the body. I am pleased with the way all the pages turned out considering this was my first attempt at the reduction linocut method. My instructor suggested that I use this as a mock-up for the book. I intend to do that as I do want to have a finished copy that I can give to family and friends. One of my fellow students commented that I’ll probably only have to cut eighty-five more Schnauzers and then I’ll have it right. More humor in the printing room. I also intend to have more pages – Gromit with friends, Gromit keeping the River Walk geese-free, and other ideas.
I want to end by saying what a great class this was. I really feel good about what I accomplished. I have had Joseph Lappie for three classes now and he is excellent. He is understanding (I made more than my share of stupid mistakes), helpful, encouraging, and very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the printing processes. Amanda and Beth, two of my classmates, were also very nice and helpful. I have learned a lot and plan on continuing with printing. I now have several projects, in addition to finishing the book, that I want to do – Christmas cards for next year, some posters.