Project 15: Bosworth’s Butchers – reduction method linocut print

For my final print I decided to make use of the reduction method of printing. I had also thought of combining this with some chine colle. However as I began the printing process I decided the print was better in one technique than a combination…

 

Colour palette inspiration

Colour palette inspiration

The above photo is of a clipping from a John lewis catalogue, it’s a clipping of a napkin from their summer 2012 home collection. I really liked the colour combinations here and thought they would work wonderfully for a reduction method print. I then set about drawing up a rough colour version of a design in my sketchbook:

colour design for reduction print - see page 73 of A4 sketchbook

colour design for reduction print – see page 73 of A4 sketchbook

I used watercolours to come up with the design and they weren’t the best choice as the colours have blended, especially the blue and green. But I felt confident that the colour’s from the John lewis swatch would work well together, complementing and contrasting each other without any one colour drowning out the other.

The next stage in the process was to think about enlarging the image to around A3 scale, I used a photo copier to help me enlarge the A4 sketch I’d done:

A3 enlargement if reduction method sketch

A3 enlargement of reduction method sketch

I then used this enlargement as the basis for tracing so I could transfer the design onto a piece of lino I had which was just larger than A3 (40 X 30 cm). As the lino was larger than A3 I knew there would be a border around the image, but I decided to keep it that way, as part of the design.

But before I could begin printing I gave some thought to my method of registration. In the past registration has always been a bit of a weakness so I wanted to research methods. I discovered this video of Simon Ripley an artist who works for ‘Double Elephant print workshops’ demonstrating a different method of registration:

I felt like this was a more fool proof method than previous method I’d used, so decided to go ahead and use it. Here’s the registration set up before printing:

Registration set up

Registration set up

It’s worth mentioning I had chosen paper before creating the registration block, so that the block was created around the measurements of the paper. I prepared five pieces of paper prior to printing, to allow for some mistakes/poor prints, and ensure I would have some good prints in the end. Choice of paper’s were: Zerkall smooth x 1, Japanese Simili paper x 2, Japanese Massa Paper x 2. Ideally I would’ve preferred more Zerkall paper but had only enough for one print left after using some in an earlier print (and not enough time to order more).

First stage:

With the paper ready for printing I set about tracing the first stage of the reduction onto the lino, and cutting out the areas I wanted to remain white on the print:

Drawing and first cuts on lino

Drawing and first cuts on lino

Complete lino cut block for first stage of printing

Complete lino cut block for first stage of printing

Inked lino block on registration block ready for first print.

Inked lino block on registration block ready for first print.

I made sure for the first stage of printing to cut away the white areas and use my lightest colour, knowing it would not be clearly visible at a later stage over the dark blue and green.

Most of the prints came out okay at the first stage of printing, except the print on the Zerkall smooth paper. This had nothing to do with the paper, but rather my addition of some chine colle lettering. I wanted to use the ‘butchers’ letters I’d used in the rainbow rolling print but this time actually stick them onto the print using chine colle. I hadn’t however particularly thought this through, and so ended up sticking the letters onto the paper in the wrong order:

failed attempt at  incorpourating chine colle

failed attempt at incorporating chine colle

close up

close up

it’s also worth noting that this was the worst stage at which to incorporate chine colle as it’s the stage with the most ink and therefore the lettering is largely obscured. From all possible angles this is an awful print, and a shame before the colour came out so well on the Zerkall paper.

Second stage:

But I had four good prints left and was determined to complete the next stage of the print. The second stage of the print had mixed success, with only three of the prints coming out with good enough quality registration:

 

Second stage of linocut before printing

Second stage of linocut before printing

Inked linocut ready for second stage of printing

Inked linocut ready for second stage of printing

Successfully registered print on Japanese Simili paper

Successfully registered print on Japanese Simili paper

The print above worked excellently and I was very pleased at how well the two layers sat on top of each other, however my next print was not so great:

Poorly registered print on Massa paper

Poorly registered print on Massa paper

close - up of poor registration

close up of poor registration

From the close up it’s easy to see how bad the registration was on that paper, his eyes don’t match up!!

Third stage:

Moving onto the third stage of printing was now slightly more nerve wrecking as I had only three viable prints to work with. And I was concerned with mixing the green well enough to work against the blue of the forth stage.

Thankfully the colour turned out well:

Third stage inked lino cut ready for printing

Third stage inked lino cut ready for printing

Unfortunately a few marks were left were I didn’t fully cut away areas, so lines transferred over onto the prints. This does spoil them a bit but I don’t think completely ruins them!

print after third stage of printing on Japanese Simili paper

print after third stage of printing on Japanese Simili paper

print after third stage on Massa paper

print after third stage on Massa paper

I think it’s clear from the photo’s above that at the third stage the print was looking best on the Japanese Simili paper and not the Massa. It’s not that it was really badly registered on the Massa paper just not as effective?

Fourth stage:

So I entered the final stage of printing with three or two potentially viable prints

Fourth layer of linocut inked and ready for printing

Fourth layer of linocut inked and ready for printing

Again I was nervous about mixing the blue correctly as blue can sometimes be so tricky (for me any way). Thankfully this turned out better than expected and was clear enough to stand out against the green of the third print:

Final print - all four stages on Japanese Simili Paper

Final print – all four stages on Japanese Simili Paper

Final thoughts:

I’m really pleased with the final print. I think the colours whilst slightly different to my original design, work well together to create a cohesive print. The registration is good enough that it doesn’t detract from the print overall but could be improved. I think I just need more practice to improve at registering prints. Although this isn’t the most complex or intricate design ever seen I think it’s a vast improvement on my first attempt at reduction method printing earlier in the course. I can see that now I could be more confident with adding detail and less cautious but overall I still think I pushed myself and demonstrated a progression in skill.

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