First of all, I want to preface this by saying that my method of printmaking is not necessarily conventional. A stovetop is not ideal for printing, and I would MUCH prefer to have my own small press. However, I don’t. So I’ll be showing you how to make a print the way I do – with the resources available to me.
So let’s print!
Step 1. Prepare the paper
First you’re going to need paper. Here I’m using Stonehenge paper in natural. Once you cut or tear your paper to the desired size, fill your sink with room temp water and let it soak for about 2 minutes. Remove the paper from the bath and pat it dry with a towel. Leave the paper between folded sides of the towel until you’re ready to print.
Step 2. Ink the block
(Please forgive my fingernails). With a brayer (mine is speedball) roll out ink on a piece of plexiglass. I’m using a water based ink in mars black. When rolling out the ink, dip your brayer slightly into the ink in two or three spots. Roll out and ink into an even, thin layer (not so thin that it’s transparent but not so think that it’s gloppy). Once you’ve got an even layer of ink rolled out onto the plexiglass, roll it onto your block. (My block is carved out of linoleum but this process works with wood blocks too). Be sure not to over ink your block. (note: it may take a few tries before you get a good feel for how much ink to use).
Step 3: Prepare your printing space
I like to mark the stove (aka my printing press) with a square of tape the size of my paper – this helps me to make sure prints are positioned where I want them on the paper. You’ll then tape your block down so it doesn’t move around during the printing process. Get your paper and baren ready (a baren is a tool used for hand-pressing prints).
Step 4: Print!
Gently place the paper over the block where you’ve made the tape outline. Press it down firmly around the edges with your fingertips. With your barren, make small circles from edge to edge of your block. Do this until until the entire image on your block is slightly embossed into the paper.
Now gently grab a corner of the paper and slowly peel upward. You want to be careful not to slide the paper around while peeling it off the block or the ink will smear.
Step 5: Number and sign
You’ll want to place the fresh print onto a flat surface while it dries. Water based inks dry pretty quickly, but you’ll want to wait until the paper itself is bone dry before cutting the paper down or signing.
Ta-da! You’ve got a print. This is just one way to make a relief print. There’s a million different kinds of prints that can be created a million different kinds of ways. I hope this was straightforward enough, I tend to over complicate things.