On Cutting (the good kind); or My Progress so far into Linoleum-block Carving

So although I posted my first Etsy listing quite some time back (a lino-cut of a panda shown in a previous entry here) it didn’t really go anywhere or turn into anything. Probably because I didn’t advertise or social media much….it seems the follow-through and follow-up are the weakest (if not nonexistent) links in my chain. So, although I didn’t make any sales, I did in fact keep learning and experimenting and whatnot and have come around back to it, relisting “Panda Prophecy” and also a new hand-carved and printed artwork (I’ve been calling it “Evilephant” which seems a bit…silly, but I haven’t come up with anything else yet):

(below: Panda Prophecy – one of a kind edition hand-painted with gold embellishments – an’eye-catching/interesting’ photo for my Etsy listing – also see link at the bottom of this post)wTools

(below: Evilephant – photo with the carved lino block and the print – also see link at the bottom of post for my actual Etsy shop listing)


So, those are the two listings I have so far. I have many other almost ready lino carvings, but what has taken a lot of my time is experimenting with this craft. A LOT of trial and error, a LOT of unsatisfactory prints, and a LOT of scouring the internet for tips, tricks and supplies. In fact, since I took notes (I take notes on most things I study – really I could be quite successful and regular in my posts and informational transference if I only had the same urging to make posts and ‘share’ as I do to learn and create…) anyway since I took notes, I’ll make a useful separate post with them, to be updated over time, with my findings on linoleum carving and whatnot.

Both of these prints started as conceptual sketches, and were a bit of an endeavor to adapt to carving (I felt both needed a lot more than they started as to make them visually work with the medium) though I might have overdone Evilephant…but hopefully newer discoveries in ink and paper will allow me more freedom in design and not worry about large areas of solid ink not transferring well.


Above, left you can see my very first drawing of Panda Prophecy on a notecard. Being that this was the first carving I made, I thought taking out the bird might be a good idea for simplification, though the swirling details I added ended up being just as difficult (if not more….smooth curves can be tricky – especially small ones and circles) to carve. I can’t tell you how long it took me to finish – definitely a few separate days of work. I drew the swirls right onto the block and carved away – sometimes having to change or alter things to fix mistakes, and often returning and refining things after trial prints. Above, right you can see the plain black print – some swirls are missing their centers and certain areas are thicker than intended. Also note the areas where the ink did not transfer well enough onto the paper in the solid-black areas. Apparently I had been printing on far too thick a paper stock for hand-printing with a spoon. I’ve since been looking at lighter papers to use until I can get a press of some sort. The embellishment-with-paint idea arose from my desire to further correct the errors apparent to me, and I really like how it turned out – though it’s quite a bit more of a time investment to hand-paint all those swirls. In earlier prints I discovered that other paint could not very successfully be used to cover errors, as it seems each paint/ink/etc. has a slightly different tone, texture, and finish, and is visible in the right light on the print. In my elephant print, I tried to use a brush and later a rubber point to apply a bit of the printing ink I’d used to correct any mistakes. Unfortunately, for all but the smallest fixes, the ink applied this way does not match in it’s finish and is thus visible on the print.


Above here you can see the original concept sketch for Evilephant. Obviously a lot has changed, from the addition of linework and designs outside the figure to alterations to the figure itself due to errors in carving and realizing my limitations as a newer carver (there was likely no way I could get the gears in the ear like above carved nicely). I may yet still do something with the original sketch as it is above since things changed enough for the carving. It’ll be interesting to see how different manifestations of the concept come through and perhaps vary in feeling across different mediums. This carving too was one I returned too over and over to make refinements, and after test prints, to correct problem areas. I think I also learned something of overdoing via design in trying to prevent uneven ink transfer. Maybe I will carve still more away to simplify the print a bit in the future…For now, the few printed successes are for sale as limited edition prints in my Etsy store.

Feels slow, but progress comes. Hopefully soon the same will apply to my sales…

((My Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/HollyZezuArtStudio ))

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