Today I wanted to show you how to make a Simple Linocut Christmas Card! They look really pretty, and are a great homemade thing to send out to friends and family!
Things you will need:
- Glass slab/printing surface for rolling out ink
- Printing paper or pre-cut cards with a smooth surface
- Cartridge paper
- Small strips of card
- Linoleum block(s)
- Selection of lino cutting tools (v-tool, gouge etc)
- Stanley knife/craft knife
- Relief printing ink (water or oil-based)
- Palette knife
- Wooden spoon or other burnishing tool
Now lets actually make our cards!
1. Begin with an idea or sketch for your card. Anything Christmassy will do!!
2. Using a pencil draw your basic design onto the surface of the lino. Don’t forget that this needs to be a ‘mirror image’ because when you come to print you will turn the block over. (Be very careful when creating text such as ‘Merry Christmas’!) You can also trace an image from a sketch or photograph that you have and then transfer it onto the block using carbon paper. In the example here I am working from some sketches in my sketchbook.
3. Begin slowly by marking out the basic elements of your design using the linocut tools. When cutting into the block always cut away from your body and fingers. Hold the block with your other hand to stop it from slipping. To cut in a different direction simply turn the block. Do not cut too deeply to start with. Don’t forget that the areas you cut out will print white (or the paper colour) in the final print. Work slowly and carefully to start with building up your design and your cuts as you go along.
4. For a Christmas card you may wish to trim around the edge of the linoblock using scissors as I do here in the example – this means that you can cut a design to any shape that you want – not just a rectangle!
5. Once your block is ready, clear up all the small pieces of lino and prepare for printing.
6. Place your ink colour onto the glass slab or inking surface. Roll the roller over the ink until the ink is spread evenly into a thin layer.
7. Then roll the roller over your lino block several times and in different directions to evenly cover the block with ink. The design you have cut will stay bare and the uncut surface of the lino (the relief) will be covered in ink.
8. Make sure your block is placed onto a clean backing sheet or cartridge paper, inked side up, and carefully place your printing paper over the top, lining it up with the backing sheet.
9. Carefully holding the paper in place with one hand use a wooden spoon or baren to rub (burnish) the back of the paper. This will transfer the ink onto the paper from the lino block.
10. Check whether the ink has transferred properly by peeling back one corner of the paper. If the image has not transferred across properly, replace the paper and carry on burnishing.
11. When the print is complete, remove the paper and leave the print to dry. Either place the print on a drying rack or leave on a flat surface. If you then decide that more cuts need to be made into the block to finish your design, clean the plate with a damp cloth to remove the ink, make your further cuts and you can then ink and print a second time.
12. Once you are happy with the design, you can them print onto your cards! Try printing with different colours to see the difference that makes.
TIP – Creating Greetings Cards
There are two main approaches you can have to producing greetings cards (including Christmas cards) from your prints:
1. Design small blocks especially for use on cards – By designing an image specifically for use on greetings cards you can keep reproducing the image until you have enough of a particular design. You can either buy the card ready-cut or buy larger sheets of card and cut it to size. Look to produce cards of standard sizes such as A6 or DL as you will be able to find envelopes and cello bags that are the correct size. Will you have a border of white around the design and the image in the middle? or will the pattern cover the whole card? There are three main approaches here
A: Printing directly onto the card (the method explained above)
B: Cutting out the print and sticking it on to the card front
C: Creating a window frame in the card to mount the print
2. Cut up larger or unwanted prints and turn these into cards – As well as designing especially for cards, you can also cut up unwanted prints, scraps and larger prints. These can then be trimmed to size and either glued to the middle of a blank card with a good border around or the whole larger print can be folder in two, to create the card. You can easily make a selection of cards from wasted paper and scraps that you may have decided to throw away. It may be a print that you started but only liked a small section of it, so use this to stick onto a card. It may also be a spare copy of a large patterned print where you may have smudged an area so that you can’t display it as a print on its own. It is a great way to use up proofs of prints, where you were just trying out an idea.
And that’s it! You can try many different designs and don’t forget if you’re struggling with anything just pop me a message on Facebook and I’ll do my best to help you. You can also send me a photo of your card, I love to see all your work!
If you’re feeling more Christmassy then my book is £8 until the end of the year and you can buy it here !
If you enjoy making cards and fancy selling them, why not take a look at my book Learn to Earn from Printmaking, which shows you ways to sell and promote your work?
Merry Christmas everyone!
Here are a few recent Christmas Cards done by students at my workshops: