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  • Writer's pictureCaroline Knox

The Essential Kit

Did you get yourself a starter kit from your local craft store and love the process but want to take it a little more seriously?

That's where I started, its a fun and affordable way to begin but, for better results you will benefit from better materials.

I am asked all the time about what I use so, I am going to tell you what I use and where I got is BUT this is what works for me and, other outlets, materials and advice is available. I will pop a few links at the end.

I also spent tooooo much money on unnecessary things so read on to avoid those mistakes!

Here's the list of the things you do need

- Lino

-Tools to carve

- Ink

- smooth

- Roller / Brayer

- Paper

- Baren / Press

Here are the things you probably have at home already! The printer paper, the sketchbooks,

some blank card sets and the back of junk mail. Whether you are test printing or creating final work use what's at hand.

I still use that wooden spoon and the old desert spoon for printing - they work brilliantly on detailed areas.

My Grans paper weight is back in a safe place but served me well. I have heard of people use coffee jar and yankee candle lids, door knobs and other dense flat bottomed items.

Necessity is the mother of invention!

I also used a cheap and effective B and Q Wall paper roller for a long time to ink my smaller blocks and, the glass pastry board is for rolling out the ink on - it fits in the sink for ease of cleaning.

So that's saved you a few pennies and here is how I would spend them - on good tools !

Your starter pack has the red handles with the changeable blades - a good tip is to have 2-3 handles, one for each type of blade. That's a very easy and affordable upgrade.

Abig have a range which steps up again, there are nice Japenese woodcarving tools - I was given a very old set of woodtools from a friend so ask about, it's amazing what people have in the back of their craft cupboard, and of course E-bay was my friend.

BUT - the allure of the Pfeil Lino cutting tool with its stainless steel, re-sharpenable blade and the beautiful handle that nestles into the palm of the hand allowing your fingers to be relieved from tensely gripping was too much. And I bought an unnecessary set of 6.

And that was an avoidable expense! At £20ish each I could have reserved £60-80 for others pleasures!

My Tools

Here are my tools, my original 6 plus an extra one (the very small V - still a favourite).

They have a completely incomprehensible system of identification - probably someone understands it!

There are V shaped gouges, U shaped gouges and large Clearing Gouges.

In my mind all the V's achieve the same end! The rest then have their usefulness determined by the area they clear

I use 4 of these regularly. Both the U, the tiny V and the left hand clearing gouge

These are my essential three, the bottom is a nice bonus and saves time but, not essential on smaller designs, so the top two would do!

These are available from many places and all are just under £20 and do have a resale value were you not to use them.

I sharpen mine myself but occasionally send them off and pay for a professional honing. These are tools for life and worth every penny.

Lino, Ink and Rollers

I use battleship grey lino and I have a variety of rollers, those red handled speedball examples are great to start with. I still use the ink I started with, Schmincke water based ink. I like it because it works and it cleans up in seconds and dries in minutes - so if you are fitting your printing around your normal life it lets you tidy up quickly.

You can buy starter packs of the ink and an additional worthwhile add on is the Extender. Adding extender to the ink is like adding water to water colours. It lightens the tone and it make the colour translucent. If you look at my blog on Multi Plate printing it shows how using extender in blue, over yellow, gives the green. Nifty eh! Here's the link!

Summing Up

So that's your needs to start and here's a final few specific hints that worked for me!

I use battleship Grey Lino, it's about A4 in size. I use it with Zerkall Printmaker paper, packs of 25 at 38cm x 26.5cm and I get this on line from Intaglio Printmaker

I like it because it has the perfect border for the lino, if I half or quarter the lino and do the same with the paper it remains perfect for me.

Another bonus is that those sizes are stock sizes so, mounts and frames so generally fit which means the cost of mounting and framing your work is hugely reduced!

How I Learnt

I went on a couple of classes and practiced a LOT (endlessly) BUT certain sources of information were huge helps.

I use Reduction Printmaking to make my limited edition images out of one sheet of lino.

Go to You Tube, type in Reduction Printmaking and many people will show you how

On Facebook the page Linocut Friends brings you into a lovely helpful teaching community.

This talented lady has built a huge library of information and teaching videos

And where to shop? Well its all on line and google searches will take you to the options below-

oIntaglio Printmakers - online or a helpful shop in Southwark Lndon

Handprinted - online (and they always send lovehearts with your order!)

Lawrence Art Suppliers - Online and a shop in Hove

Jacksons Art - well stocked and useful for ink on line and a London store

And there are others but, these are the four I use in order of usage.

So, this is my starter advice, once you start you will have a million questions about rollers, and sharpening tools and ink types and paper options and so on and so forth for ever and ever! And that's where Linocut Friends on FB steps on on advice, pointers to good books, critique, praise and love for your creations.

Get on with it! Start printmaking immediately!

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