Shop Talk

Guest Blog: Create Custom Lino-Cut Wrapping Paper

Hello! I’m James. As part of my residency with Redbubble, I’ve been working on art tutorial videos for the last few months. Usually my thing is detailed drawings and paintings, but since it’s the festive season, I thought it would be fun to do something a little different.

Lino Cut Printing is a fun holiday project, that also lets you participate in the festivities while maintaining your too-cool-for-the-room, irreverent hipster qualities. Win – Win. The process is fairly straight forward, but you will need some tools and materials that you’re unlikely to have lying around the house. This video will help get you started.

For those more into words…

Tools and materials

First off, you’ll need some lino. We are only four seconds into this lesson and I’m already lying to you because I actually used vinyl for this project. Please forgive me. I was just trying to impress you. Lino and Vinyl can both be purchased from any art shop. They are going to give you very similar results, but I find vinyl to be much easier to carve.

You are also going to need some carving tools. I own a few different types but I recommend buying a pack of Japanese WoodCarving Tools. They’re designed for woodcarving, so they slice through Lino like butter, which makes the whole process a lot easier.

And finally, you will need some Block Ink and a rubber roller for applying the ink. I recommend buying water based ink because oil based inks take a thousand years to dry, and you probably want this wrapping paper before then.


The Process

You’re likely want to start with a sketch. My only recommendation here is to keep it super simple. Take a look at the thinnest carving tool you have. Thats your finest line. So keep that in mind when designing.

To get your design on the lino, you can obviously just free-hand it, but if you share my control-freak tendencies, you may want to transfer it.
To do this, tape some tracing paper to your design, and trace over it with a pen.
Then cribble on one side of the tracing paper with a soft pencil.
Tape the tracing paper graphite-side down on the vinyl so it doesn’t move. Because the paper is transparent, you will still be able to see your lines. Trace these lines with a ball-point pen. The pressure of the pen will transfer your image to the vinyl.

Take a felt-tip pen, and tidy up your design.

Now you get to play with sharp objects!

Take the sharpest tool and wave it around, gesticulating wildly with no regard for the safety of you are anyone around…. Wait.. no… don’t do that because that’d make you a terrible person. Instead be careful with them because these tools can be pretty sharp. Treat them like the tiny Katana’s that they are.
You want to take your carving tool of choice, and remove all the lino that isn’t your drawing. Anything not carved away will appear in your print.

Next grab your ink and your roller.

This part can get pretty messy, so I recommend an easily cleanable surface, like glass. For this project I used a cheap picture frame.

Squeeze some ink onto the glass and roll it until the roller is evenly covered in ink. You will hear a pleasing ‘tacky’ sound when it’s adequately covered.
Run the inky roller over your lino cutting.

Roll your wrapping paper out on a flat surface and carefully place your lino ink-side down onto it. Be careful not to smudge it, unless that’s the way you choose to live your reckless punk lifestyle. Personally I can’t live at that intensity.

To make sure the ink has transferred, apply some pressure to it. I have a second, clean, roller (because of my bourgeois life of excess) that I use for this, but rubbing the lino with the back of a spoon is just as effective.

Now you want to position your camera just right, because the next part is Instagram gold. The Peel. You obviously could just pull the lino with cold, but effective indifference, but I urge you instead to slowly and languorously peel it away.

You’ve earned some indulgence.

So there you have it. Probably you have a print on all-seeing pineapple now. Possibly other designs would also work. Who can say?

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James Ormiston

I draw weird things. / I grew up in New Zealand, devouring surrealist comedians like Monty Python, and I blame them for my artworks...