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Friday, 16 October 2015

Inspired by autumn: leaf prints

I've had a few weeks away from my office job, so it's given me a breathing space and chance to do some printing. It all started when I picked up some leaves and put them in a leaf press which my son bought me last Christmas. I became quite fascinated by them. This year, the colours seem especially beautiful and intense. 

For the first prints, I just inked the leaves with printing ink which I buy from my local art shop or from Great Art Supplies online. It was trickier than I thought it would be. Too much ink is the problem, it needs to be a thin coating so you can see the veins and patterns.

Then I decided that I would do a lino cut print. I figured that leaves should be straightforward. Well, no, they weren't! The first effort was a disaster, I didn't dig out the lino deep enough and the result was no good. So, I had another try.

Here is my basic kit. Some cutters given to me by my Dad, white cartridge paper (Tiger's is good value and good quality) and some block printing ink. I use a glass panel on which to squeeze the ink, and a small roller to spread it evenly over the lino. I then place the paper on the top of the lino and smooth it down firmly using the back of a spoon. (that was an invaluable tip I got from doing James Green's excellent course in Sheffield earlier this year, see earlier post for details). 

My lino block is at the top of this picture, and I've displayed it on an article in one of Country Living's early bookazines, which gave me the idea for my design, along with this beautiful shot from the current issue of LandScape (I am a contributor and I love the magazine too!).

I was quite pleased with the results, but not bowled over. Too much ink is always the problem. I had various tries.

I was just about to put everything away and wash my roller and glass when I thought I would just use up the leftover ink on a piece of linen. I've tried fabric printing before and really enjoy it. 
It worked! I was really pleased and I do prefer this to the paper prints.

And here:

It's purely decorative as the ink is water based, but I might try some fabric ink next time. 

I really recommend lino cutting. It's relatively inexpensive, and there are so many techniques to try. You can trace on a drawing if you don't feel comfortable doing it freehand. It's also incredibly relaxing because although it takes concentration, you can't think about anything else at all. 

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