Tuesday, 27 July 2010

High Roller Society - Linoprinting Workshop


24 July 2010

photos: NoLionsInEngland except High Roller Society where noted.

After last week’s hugely fascinating screenprinting workshop, Graffoto completed its 6 hour crafts major at High Roller Society’s linoprinting workshop. Guest demo man this week was printer, book illustrator and lecturer (among many other illustrative activities) Nick Morley from East London Printmakers, aka “linocut boy”.

He showed off the tense and dangerous art of cutting lino, creating a prophetic split composition of a sprinting cyclist and a cloud of dust which anticipated Mark Cavendish winning the Champs Elysee stage of the Tour de France the following day. Just for fun, Nick chose to demonstrate a colour blend print across the cloud of dust with a solid blue on the cyclist

Lino cutting the cloud of dust (photo: High Roller Society)

Blending colours

Inking up

Positioning the paper

Beron action

Go Cav!

Using Nick’s freshly cut lino block we participants and devotees had our first crack at inking and the critical skill of pressing the paper to the lino block using a “beron”.

Inking up

For entertainment and experimentation, the workshop had a go at printing on six lino blocks kindly made available by Sweet Toof, Paul Insect, Nylon, Cyclops and SheOne and actually used in the printing of “lim ed” prints on sale at the High Roller Society “Press and Release” show. With a number of different coloured papers and ink colours to try, some of the prints produced by us amateurs looked pretty damn lush.

Sweet Toof proof print

On a technical note, the prints taken off the blocks at the workshop are regarded as “proofs” and some of the noted artists were present and showing how their work could be/should be printed, SheOne showed us how to overlay an abstract piece over a colour background resulting in a gorgeous spikey bold combination. Three artist printed proofs are available from High Roller Society though we understand the online shop may not be fully functional you probably should email them.

foreground: SheOne creating printed image, background: LMNL inks up a block, her hair and her frock

Rather than part of any edition, the “proofs” printed by us amateurs were really have-a-go fun practise pieces for people interested in the process, there certainly didn’t seem to be any signing or numbering going on.

SheOne proof print (photo High Roller Society)

Although we tend to think of lino cut as an ancient but coarse form of reproduction, there are many ways it can go wrong in the hands of the novice. Inking up the plate requires a skilled eye to ensure that the ink is uniformly spread with no blank spots, irregular pressing can cause variations in the image transferred to the paper. The photo below shows an overlap comparison of our first and second attempts at printing on a Sweet Toof lino print. Blemishes? No, those differences are “process idiosyncrasies”.

Sweet Toof linocut prints, newsprint paper.

If you look at the proofs hanging from the drying rack below you can see how the detail in the black marks along the edge varies between the two prints, and they were printed by the artist!

SheOne, Paul Insect (photo: High Roller Society)

Under the guidance of linoprint boy, Little Miss NoLions went next level, cutting a dragon outline (which from Dad perspective got “tense and dangerous”) and freestyling the skin texture and background.

Three days later we have two dragon lino prints still wet, ink on the upholstery in the car (joining the legions of dabs and smears from previous incidents transporting kids' wet painting) and ink on the back of the settee, a window ledge and the dining table.

The demonstration covered a simple small scale version of the process, linocut printing can be done in a variety of more complicated and even mechanised versions of the basic process we learnt. Linocut supremo Nick told the story of how he drove a steam roller a couple of weeks ago to press paper onto some very large lino cuts. The Nolions' mental picture of a lino mat wrapped round the roller with a sweaty, oil stained Nick banging out a repeating pattern on hot fresh tarmac turned out to be wrong but how were we to know.

Thanks to High Roller Society and particularly Jenny for putting on these events, NLIE and LMNL thoroughly enjoyed these insights into such mysterious arts. Thanks also to the artists who allowed their lino cuts to be desecrated by amateurs and to those artists present at the workshop providing help and encouragement. We look forward to High Roller Society living up to its name and bringing a steam roller along to a future workshop.

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