Like I mentioned in my last post, I’m super stoked for us to finally be in the home stretch Christmas season. I’m one of those people that listens to holiday music in the middle of the May because it’s just so dang upbeat, but now it’s finally socially acceptable to advertise it, hah!
My favorite thing about the holidays is making DIY presents and decor, so I decided to share a crafty way to make DIY holiday cards with you! Making linocut prints is something I first did in college, but if you’ve ever carved a stamp out of a potato as a child (you know, before phones existed and we made non-technological fun), you’ll get the gist.
So what exactly is linocutting?
Linocut printing a type of relief printing, similar to woodcutting, that involves chiseling or carving a design into a linoleum surface. The parts carved away stay blank, laving the raised parts to print a reverse image once inked (like a stamp). The cut linoleum can be used repeatedly to make hundreds of prints.
1. Trace an outline of the linoleum you’ll be cutting onto your drawing paper, then draw the design you want to print onto your paper. Keep in mind while drawing that your design is going to print in reverse, in case you want to include words!
2. Flip your drawing over and cover the back of the paper with charcoal. This will help you to transfer your drawing onto your sheet of linoleum. (If you have transfer paper, you can just skip this step)
3. Flip your paper back over and set it on top of the linoleum (if you’re using a transfer sheet, place that in between the two). Take your pencil and trace over your drawing in entirety, making sure to press down a little harder so that the charcoal makes an imprint of your design.
4. Now, take your carving tool and carve out your design! Do a few test carves on the blank space of the design to get the hang of the tools if necessary. This is a fun part, because you can take liberties and carve out as much or as little as you’d like.
A FEW TIPS: My favorite carving tool is the one shaped like a V, like this. I feel like it gives me the most control! Also, be sure to carve away from yourself, so your hand doesn’t accidentally slip and cause you to stab yourself. It might be kinda metal to print a design in blood, but do that for Halloween not Christmas (but seriously, don’t).
5. Now that you’re done carving, turn your linoleum on its side and give it a tap, so any loose pieces fall off. Get your paint ready on a dish/paper plate/wax paper and use a brayer or a paint brush to coat your linoleum sheet with your paint.
A brayer is preferable because you’ll be less likely to get paint into the nooks and crannies that you carved out, but you can use a paint brush if that’s all you’ve got around (like me).
6. Now take your cardstock, and press it down on top of the plate! I tried to keep my paper fairly centered over the inked linoleum, but I ended up trimming off the edges so it didn’t really matter.
7. Peel the cardstock off your linoleum. Tada, you have a print!! If you want, you can be done here and just use the print as is (or maybe as a postcard). I decided to trim around the whites and then use rubber cement to glue my design to brown paper cardstock, for some contrast and a more polished design. Up to you where you take it!