Linoleum Prints


  • Permanent markers, variety of sizes
  • Lino carving tool with a variety of blades
  • Bench hook
  • A variety of linoleum and other carving surfaces
  • Printing ink, any color
  • Acrylic Paint, any color
  • Gelli Plate
  • Brayers
  • Wooden spoon
  • Printing paper
  • Sponge
  • Newspaper
  • Ruler
A brief collage of materials used

Stage 1: Cutting the plates

The Linoleum Plate

A quick drawing using a variety of black permanent markers of what I wanted my print image to be.

Using the lino carving tool with a variety of blades to carve the image. I actually ended up using all blades but #5.

The "Brown Composite Material"

I really have no idea what this material is. I found this in my classroom in the printmaking cabinet. I decided to give it a try!

The plate. Resembled cork.

I was inspired by a "Zentangle" image that had 3 basic values: white, black, and 1 mid tone created with line technique. I thought this would be a GREAT lesson idea on creating a range of values with beginning printmaking students. In this print, students would have to come up with just the carving technique that would become the mid tone in the print. Students would leave black areas un-carved, and white areas completely carved out. On the right, you can see a value scale I drew out. I would have students do this as well. They would carve the value scale first before applying it to their image.

The plate completely cut.

The EZ-Carve

A small square piece cut to 1.75 inches.

Drawing my image using black permanent markers.

I was inspired by an art teacher I just recently visited in Harrisoburg City Schools, Angel Woods. She does a lesson with her 6th graders on rotations and symmetry using their name and a graphite transfer technique. I decided to apply this same lesson idea into printmaking! Additionally, students would have the chance to automatically experience the idea of reflections since they'd be making prints! In order for students to be able to write their names backwards with ease, I found some great resources online to show the alphabet in mirror image. Click the link below to view one such site.

The tiny plate carved.

The Eraser

Again, I was inspired by a "Zentangle" for the actual image. I do a lesson with my 6th graders where they create a balanced border design for their art folder using traditional drawing materials like pencils, crayons, colored pencils, and markers. I thought this eraser stamp idea would be great for this lesson instead since the image repeats and it comes in the perfect size for creating a border!

For my own experiment, I chose an image that reminded me of bamboo or palm tree bark. I wanted to incorporate this as a border for my linoleum print of the palm leaves.

Eraser cut.

Linoleum Mounted on Wood Block

Another "found" printing surface from my printmaking cabinet in my classroom. Let's see how it compares to the others!

This was my final surface. I decided to use this block to create a teaching tool to illustrate to my students what each number blade for the carving tool looks like when cut straight, curved, and angled.

Plate completely cut.

Stage 2: Printing

The Linoleum Plate

The set up. I keep everything that's messy to the right since I'm right handed; I keep everything that needs to be clean to the left. So I have my inking side (the right) and my printing side (the left).

Often, I like to have a clean margin around my prints, so I drew out a registration guide at my printing station.

This is the ink that I have in my classroom. It is specifically for screen printing, but I figured I'd try it out for linoleum printing. It's nice because it's water soluble and safe for the classroom.

Ready to print!

I like to use a wooden spoon; I feel it always produces better prints than just using your hands, especially for a hard surface like linoleum.

Proof print. Very pleased with the image; not so pleased with the print quality. Definitely needs more ink! Let's try again!

Used the proof print again and tested my registration skills. A wee bit off, which you can always tell in a print. But obviously the darker ink is much better. Let's try again!

Print #2 (Officially #1 since it's the good one).

2nd good print.

I did 4 total (including the first proof). The black ink worked out well.

The "Brown Composite Material"

Inking the plate; same black ink as before.

First print. Very pleased. This surface is very absorbent, but I like the texture it produces!

2nd print pulled. Much more ink. I actually like a little less ink as in the 1st print much better.

4 prints pulled in total.

The EZ-Carve

Square paper for this print as I plan to repeat my stamp as a rotation and then a translation.

Front of EZ-Carve stamp.

I labeled the back of the stamp with "T" for top, "B" for bottom, "R" for right, and "L" for left. This helps to know how to turn your stamp when printing the rotation.

Ink the stamp. I find that using the brayer provides even coverage.

If you can see, I folded my paper diagonally corner to corner, both sides to create an X so I could identify the middle of the paper more easily and place my stamp according to this central point which will become my rotation point.

First stamp.

4 stamps; 1 rotation.

Complete print.

2nd print. Rotated around another corner of the stamp as the central point.

A 3rd print. This one is a translation (follow diagonally).

All 3 prints. I love the idea of creating different patterns from the same little motif.

The Eraser

I decided to try pressing the eraser stamp into the ink I had already rolled to see how well it would do.

Test print on a small piece of paper. Turned out nicely, so I repeated this process around the border of one of the linoleum prints.

I decided to play around with spacing and direction on the proof linoleum print.

Final print. Some areas lack ink. My rolled out ink was starting to dry out. So after rolling more, I decided to use the brayer for some of the other stamps in this border instead of stamping it down into the ink.

Linoleum Mounted on Wood Block

Print #1

Print #2

Stage 3: Color Experiments

The Linoleum Plate

Using the Gelli Plate to apply an initial layer of color.

Laid down a strip of paper to cover the ink that went outside the plate registration lines.

Pulled 4 Gelli Plate monoprints total for a base layer of color. Now it's time to print on top of that!

Trying out acrylic paint instead of printing ink.

WOA! Definitely didn't work. The paper stuck to the plate!

I tried it again on plain white paper. It's definitely the green acrylic and not the fact that there was a layer of color already on the paper I used the first time. I remembered hearing something about this in either Tim's video or Abby's video, so I decided to try using wet paper with the acrylic paint. I didn't want to ditch it just yet because I didn't want to waste the paint I had already rolled out.

Wetting the paper before printing.

Much better. But I'm still not too pleased with the quality of the print.

I tried the wet paper method with acrylic paint again, this time using one of my monoprints. It's better than the last time, but still not satisfied.

I decide to do the wet paper method one more time on plain white paper to use up the rest of the acrylic paint I had rolled out. Much better.

Print pulled using Speedball waterbased printing ink. I mixed blue, yellow, and violet together. The results are much better than the acrylic.

I tried it again, this time using one of the green monoprints. I did not have to pre wet the paper since I am using printing ink instead of acrylic paint.

Final print. Best one yet.

The Eraser

I rolled out an ocher acrylic paint to use on the reverse side of the eraser stamp as a base layer. Very similar to the Gelli Plate method I did in the linoleum color prints.

I combined brown printing ink, ocher acrylic paint, and gold craft paint. I used a brayer on the stamp for even coverage.

This is my practice on one of my "not so favored" prints just to try it out.

First I stamped on the plain yellow (reverse side of stamp) and then I printed the eraser stamp with the brown ink mixture on top of that. I like how this border looks. It goes well with the theme of the artwork.

So now I try the same border method as practiced in the previous image to a good print.

Final print. Very pleased.

Gallery of Final Prints

Created By
Clare Norris


All images photographed by Clare Norris

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