Home experiments into dry point and lino printing

10 September 2016


This time last year, I attended a printmaking course at Gainsborough’s House Printmaking studio, Sudbury and since then, I been lucky enough to purchase a second hand intaglio press. This was the first real opportunity I had to practice using the press. It was a very different experience to using the press on the printmaking course. The press at Gainsborough’s House was geared and set up by the tutors, whereas my press is ungeared and I have to set it up myself! 


My first series of dry points

I used a sketch which I had drawn of my 2 year old niece mud painting as the basis for my design. The original sketch is shown below.

I photocopied and resized the sketch, which I placed under a sheet of acetate as a template whilst I scratched the design onto it using drypoint etching needles (if I’d been bothered about the image being the correct way around, I would have needed to ‘digitally flip’ first to obtain a mirror image).

For my first experiments I used 220gsm cartridge paper, soaked in water for 30 minutes and blotted dry. I used Lawrence’s own brand oil-based etching ink, applied with a wedge of cardboard and worked into the impressions using stiff scrim.

My first print was rather pale. For the second print, I re-inked and worked the ink back into the grooves. This was better but still not as dark as I would have liked.

I wondered whether I had maybe soaked the paper for too long and/or should have used some extender with the printing ink. Next, I used the same paper but soaked in water for only 10 minutes before blotting. I added extender to the ink before applying, which made it more workable. The results were variable; I still got a very pale first print (ink not worked properly into the grooves?), but my subsequent print was much better (see below)



I am pleased with this as my first print. The soft marks underneath the sharp lines were intentional and made with a diamond-shaped etching needle. I wanted to recreate the feeling of ‘drawing over’ which was present in my sketchbook. However, I feel that the etched marks do lack the spontaneity of the sketch. Maybe I need more practice to feel confidence with the etching needles, or perhaps I will only get a feeling of spontaneity if inscribe the image straight onto the etching plate. Only time and more experimentation will tell.


My first series of lino prints

I used a technique which I had learnt at the printmaking classes, where you ink up an uncut piece of lino and place found objects onto it before printing. Successive prints can be make by removing and replacing the objects in a different position without re-inking, or re-inking, replacing the objects and making a new print (hopefully all will become clear when you see the progression of images!) I used dry 220gsm cartridge paper and Lawrence oil based relief printing ink. 

Below is a photo of my first print. I used a sprig of oats, a piece of straw and some nylon fruit netting to make the silhouettes.


For my second print, I simply removed the found objects and printed again without re-inking (see below)

Next, I re-inked, replaced the objects in a new position and took another print. I had some issues with spoiling the paper around the edge of the print because the inky objects were touching them. This is something I will have to resolve/prevent in future.

The next print I took involved placing some more straw and some seed heads on top of the lino before re-printing. There was no re-inking in between. It is possible to see an embossed effect from the seed pods.


My last print (again not re-inked) was a straight print taken off the plate once all the found objects had been removed. It is quite a ghostly, feint image.

I love the effect of this type of printing. Very fine detail is revealed by the printing process and some beautiful marks are made. I didn’t have time to make a jig, so I had issues with my roller having to do a “step-up” once it got to the lino plate and readjust the pressure/setting. A friend has shown me how to resolve this by making card “feeders” just marginally less thick than the lino.


My first series of lino cut prints

I already had made a lino cut in the shape of a flower. It was a very plain simple design consisting of a flat area of relief cut out, so I thought about embellishing it with the stems and stalks as I had done in the previous sample.

I made just two prints this time. For the first one I inked the lino, then placed the found objects on top of it and took the print (see below). Note there is some residual ink on the straw stem and net from the first series which adds to the textural effect. 

Next, removed the stem and net and took another print without re-inking (see below)

I love both of these prints and I think they would make a good set. There is also and attractive embossed effect as well as the printing. The print above is crooked because the lino moved during pressing. This is again an issue which I can resolve by using a jig, such as the one I described earlier.




3 thoughts on “Home experiments into dry point and lino printing

  1. Pingback: The Print and Stitch Group, 15 Sept 2016 | Learning Log for Textiles 1: Mixed Media for Textiles

  2. Inger Weidema

    Woweee. This is super interesting Nicola. I am thrilled with this new insights on how you can layer with printing. The press seems to be needed for this to happen (as well as the moist paper). Jummy…. I would have loved to be there with you!



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