Monday, 1 May 2017


Yesterday I took part in a lino cutting taster class at Walford Mill with resident printmaker Robin Mackenzie. Robin specialises in illustration and printmaking of the wood engraving and linocut variety and is just an all-round tip top bloke and jolly good egg.
We started off the class by flipping through some print books for ideas of texture and mark making. Robin welcomes complete newbies to his classes (which is just as well as we nearly all were!); I've done a little bit of lino printing before but nothing to get excited about. Everyone brought a photo or sketch to work from but we were provided with all the other essential equipment we needed:
I had an original sketch to work from:
I wanted to do something fun and in my own unique illustrative style; although I knew that all this detail might be pushing it for a 2 hour class I was up for a little challenge!
Once we'd all sketched out our compositions and were happy with the design, we proceeded to draw it onto the lino with marker ready for cutting. As it dried, we used small practice pieces to try out different marks with the cutting tools, here was mine:
You don't have to press very hard at all to make a mark, which is in one way good as your hand doesn't ache too much and in another bad... because of course if your hand slips whilst cutting you can make crazy lines you didn't want! To that end, it pays to be somewhat flexible in your design idea; thin lines sometimes have to become thick lines and short lines sometimes end up a bit longer... oops! At first I didn't want to accept this and frustrated myself, but by the end of the session I resigned to my fate. Here's the finished block:
This, of course, had to be a reverse image of my original drawing so that when printed it would come out the right way. And finally, the finished print:
I am really pleased with it and the best part was after all the designing and carving away to see the magical reveal when we inked up the design and used Robin's original 1854 cast iron Albion hand press to make the print. I can see some definite areas for improvement in my block, but on the whole I love my print and am proud of what I made in only two hours! I especially like the moon, the trees and twinkly stars the most. Everybody in the class came away with a print they were happy with, and personally it's renewed my interest and joy in printing, so I hope to experiment more in the near future!