What is a Lino Print?

All of the designs for my artworks are carved by hand into lino, or the modern vinyl equivalent, using a selection of different pfiel tools.  I then print by hand with a baren.  This means that rather than using a printing press to apply pressure, I burnish the back of the paper by hand, transferring the ink to the paper. 

I like to use handmade Japanese paper because it has a lovely velvety surface which picks up the ink in excellent detail.  Most of my prints are on the paper “Hosho Select” from the Awagami Factory in Japan. The inks I use are oil-based and colour-fast.  Mixing the right colours is often the part that takes the longest!

Prints with more than one colour are printed using the “reduction process”.  Each colour is printed on top of the previous layer with more of the lino carved away each time.

I usually only print 20 copies of each image as then I am free to get on with the next new design.  When you purchase a hand-printed lino artwork you are the owner of one member of a small family, each one of which is numbered to identify them.  For example, the label 2/20 means it is the second print from an edition of which there are only 20 copies.

If you would like to try it for yourself, sign up to one of my workshops!

Melissa Birch lino carving process