Lino Printing ink & tools…here to help not hinder
When I started my printmaking journey I had the following tools, beginners set cutting tools and a spoon for pressing. I also had very low grade printing ink, which in my case, made things a little tough.
The main problems I faced making my lino prints were all linked to the lack of a press and the poor quality ink. I found my prints were coming out blotchy, inconsistent and just overall messy looking. I did not like it! Every time I would make a print it wouldn’t be the same as the next one. I often thought…how do professional printmakers make 50 perfect editions? They used a press and better ink…that’s for sure. The first step I took was getting better ink. The days prior to brexit meant I could very easily buy from Handprinted Uk & Intaglio Printmakers. So I treated myself to Cranfield Safe Wash ink and some Ho-Sho Japanese rice printing paper from Handprinted UK. There seems to be a huge gap in the market for high quality printmaking materials in Ireland (and I have asked Evans Art to stock the ink I use and so many other Irish printmakers do aswell…but they said no!) as I can’t get Cranfield ink, proper printing papers or good rollers here yet (if anyone knows where I can please leave a comment).
The first time I rolled out the Cranfield safe wash ink I knew it was a different caliber of ink. It rolled out so evenly, it made the tacky/sticky noise you want when ready to print. There is a reason its printmakers favorite brand for ink. I was so thrilled when I rolled out the ink I was sure I would start making better prints, and I did!…kinda. The ink made the prints more even in colour but I was still struggling with consistency in the print itself, it was still patchy in places. So the next printmaking investment I got was a hand press.
The press I chose was a Woodzilla A3 plus printing press. It is made by a Dutch press maker and took Instagram by storm with his presses in 2020. I had to wait 6 months for my press he was so busy. But it was totally worth the wait, it was fantastic. I was so giddy to use it I grabbed an old lino block, rolled out some black safe wash ink, inked up my block and placed it on the press. I put down my A3 Ho-Sho paper and set the press. Opened it up and pulled off the print to finally get a print I was desiring for over a year. It made the wait for that press so worth it, my print was so crisp and consistent, I never wanted to see a spoon again!
Last year saw my newest collection of lino cutting tools, the infamous Pfeil tools. These are without a doubt the best lino cutting tools available. They are not cheap by any way, but wow do they carve so beautifully. I was lucky to get a set for my birthday and have been using them ever since. They are very sharp and glide through the soft cut lino. They made it easy to do fine details and lines. I dived into the deep end and choose a very detailed little seahorse to try first. It is one of my favourite prints I have made to date. He’s so cute!