Lino 101: 5 Tips on How to Pull a Perfect Print
By Milly Hailstone
After finding this beautiful technique online, I fell in love with it, and taught myself exactly how to carve and print. After much trial and error, and trawling the web for techniques, I found that there weren’t too many resources for lino printing onto fabric.
Disclosure: Some links in this blog post are affiliate links, meaning, at no extra cost to you, I may make a small commision if you choose to make a purchase through my link. Thank you for supporting the BN1 Blog.
1. Always Pull a Test Print
This has got to be the most important tip - always test your new block out. I know it’s super exciting and their is literally nothing like printing a block for the first time, but be patient. Use paper or scrap fabric to test the block before printing straight onto a tee, for example.
I have two reasons for this; the first being that your block might not be totally finished. Those edges need be to sharpened. Secondly, I always find a second prime of the block and roller comes out much better than the first. For me, the second print always looks banging.
2. Use Good Quality Ink
There’s nothing worse than a tube of lumpy ink. There have been times when I’ve had to pick the lumps from the last of my ink to meet an order deadline. And let me tell you it’s not pretty. I find it’s best to pick the good quality brands, even if they are more expensive ‘cos ultimately your product will be better as a result.
I use Speedball’s oil based block-printing inks which come in many different colors and are always good quality. Also - some brand’s claim their screen printing inks are thick enough to use for block printing. But, listen up, it’s a LIE. I can tell you that because I’ve learned the hard way.
3. Pick Great Fabrics
This might seem obvious, but different fabrics have varying results when they are printed on. I would fully recommend using woven fabrics like cotton for making patches, cushions etc. If you can source organic, of course you should.
Be careful printing on fabrics that have a pile (a raised surface, like a towel). Even the twill weave on denim can be hard to navigate for beginners. Flat, matte fabrics tend to work out the best.
4. WTF is Burnishing?
If you’re not lucky enough to own a press, you need to learn how to hand burnish. I know, it sounds weird, but it’s simply using a tool to rub the print onto the surface. My local art shop didn't have one, but you can get one from Amazon.
With paper printing, if you don’t have a burnisher you can use a spoon or the bottom of the heavy glass. But for fabric, it’s a different ball game. You’re gonna need a rolling pin, I'd recommend a wood one - like this. To print on something stretchy like a t-shirt, you’ll lay it flat and then slowly place your block face-down on top. Then with your rolling pin, roll it out. Hard. And when you think you’re done, roll a little bit more.
5. Practice Makes Perfect
Yep I know you probably just groaned. But this is a slow art. Be persistent because the satisfaction you’ll get from pulling a perfect print is huge. I originally chose lino printing as a cheaper alternative to screen printing.I didn’t have the money and being the control freak I am, I had no trust to let someone else finish my product.
Luckily for me, this art developed into one of my passions. I’ll happily spend 6 hours carving a new block. There have been times in Winter when it too dark to carve any longer. But, not willing to give up, I would duct tape my phone to an upside-down cup and turn on the torch.
Discloser: Some links in this blog post may be affiliate links, meaning, at no extra cost to you, I may make a small commision if you choose to make a purchase through my link. Thank you for supporting the BN1 Blog.