So I went to a beginner's linocut class this past weekend as an early birthday present to myself. I've always had a thing about black and white prints, the simple beauty and intricacy of them, the contrast of a black silhouette against a white page. It was a lot of fun and not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I took a sketch I'd drawn of what I wanted to try and create: a silhouette of a bird sitting on snow-covered branches.
We started with a plain piece of linoleum. We traced and outlined our design onto the linoleum with a Sharpee. Then we used little shovel-like tools with different heads to carve out our design. The tricky part was wrapping my head around the black/white concept: whatever I carved out would end up white, while whatever I left behind would end up black on the page. How much ink showed on the page depended on how deeply you cut into the linoleum. This is the part that took me the best part of FOREVER: the artsy illustrator guy to the left of me had carved out two designs in the time it took me to do this puppy. And I'm pretty sure I injured my neck while I was at it.
Then it was time to try printing. I rolled my lino with black ink and lined it up on a giant press. Then I turned the big captain's wheel and pressed the wet inked lino under my chosen decorative paper. And out came several of these:
I had a lot of fun printing my design on different kinds of paper that I plan on turning into this year's Christmas cards. This is such a fun art form and something I plan to play with in future, although I'll have to figure out how to do it without a giant press.