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A linocut starts first with a drawing, which is then traced and transferred to the linoleum block using carbon paper. It is important to plan an image that is not too detailed and which has a good balance of positive and negative space. Once the image has been transferred to the block (note that it will print the opposite of how it was drawn), the linocutting process begins.
As an art medium, linoleum has many useful qualities. In particular, it is affordable and, compared to woodblocks, easy to cut. However, the linoleum must be warm for it to cut well. To heat the linoleum, I set it in the sun every ten or fifteen minutes before continuing to work. This also gave my fingers time to rest.
Linocutting tools, as you see pictured, come in various shapes, including U’s, V’s and chisels, or flats. They are relatively affordable, a set of five of decent quality costing between twenty and thirty dollars. I found the most useful to be a medium U and small V, which most sets include.
When creating a linocut, you have to continually remind yourself that what you are cutting away, the negative space, will not register; only what you leave behind will pick up the ink.
It is important to keep a mental picture of the completed work in your mind and to move slowly so as to not make mistakes. Remember, once you cut something away you can’t bring it back. A good habit to get into is to periodically do a rubbing with tracing paper to see how you are progressing.
In producing the linocut for my new novel Bay of Hope, I found it most effective to carve the main lines and clear the larger areas of negative space first before moving on to the more
technical work. In order to preserve the contrast and clarity of the linocut, I made sure not to overdevelop the image.
I was now finished and ready to print the cover art for Bay of Hope.