The latest paper I have chosen to work on is smooth, cheap and nice to work with it’s Khadi rag paper sold in central London.
I have tried Rosapina, Snowden Cartridge and a host of hand made papers from Falkiners and Cass Art.
Useful website about paper and how to sharpen tools:
Japanese Handmade Paper for relief printmaking (washi):
Japanese Paper (Washi) is prized for its many excellent properties including its warmth and tactile qualities, strength and low acidity. Traditionally-made Japanese papers are truly acid-free if they are unbleached and unsized. Examples of printed papers exist in perfect condition in Japan from 1000 years ago.
The flexibility in grain direction in washi and resistance to creasing makes it perfect for covering books and boxes. The translucency of certain sheets makes them ideal for lighting and screen making. The wet strength and absorbency of washi means it is perfect for a huge array of printmaking techniques.
Many traditional uses of the paper have endured: origami, kites, doll and umbrella-making and unparalleled packaging. Today, its uses are limitless: paper jewellery; to cover mats in framing; used as a background for photography and to develop photographs on; to cover walls and furniture; to produce memorable wedding invitations and for a host of graphic design and public relations promotions.
The inner barks of three plants – kozo, mitsumata and gampi – are used primarily in making washi although other fibres are sometimes mixed in with the other fibres for decorative effect.
Kozo (paper mulberry) is said to be the masculine element, the protector, thick and strong. It is the most widely used fibre, and the strongest. It is grown as a farm crop, and regenerates annually, so no forests are depleted in the process.
Mitsumata is the “feminine element”: graceful, delicate, soft and modest. Mitsumata takes longer to grow and is thus a more expensive paper. It is indigenous to Japan and is also grown as a crop.
Gampi was the earliest and is considered to be the noblest fibre, noted for its richness, dignity and longevity. It has an exquisite natural sheen, and is often made into very thin tissues used in book conservation and chine-collé printmaking. Gampi has a natural ‘sized’ finish which does not bleed when written or painted on.
Paper: Recommended Zerkall 145 gms, Hosho from Intaglio
The stone recommended is a Japanese Suehiro sharpening stone. The stone essentially has two sharpening stones stuck together, with one side (blue) slightly more coarse that the other (white) side. This stone is available on ebay for 20.00 or so.
A slip stone is also a little tool I’d recommend you add to your toolbox for sharpening lino cutting tools. They are used for removing a burr. What is Burr? I hear you say… Well, they are a raised edge or build up of metal that you can get on the inside of the cutting edges of the tools as you sharpen them. You want to be able to get rid of these nice and cleanly so a slipstone is handy for doing exactly that.
They have a pointed edge and a curved edge, which means that you can use them for removing the burr from a U shaped or V Shaped tool.
Cleaning a linocut after you’ve used it to print your latest masterpiece is really important if you want to keep all your linocuts like I do for printing another day. One of the great things about printing is the variety of ways you can experiment with printing the same block, achieving a variety of fantastic results. I wanted to write this blog to help any new linocut artists who might be wondering what the best way to clean up and preserve their blocks were.
When using oil based inks, like many relief prints, you cannot really clean the ink away with hot soapy water (as I tried to). It doesn’t really work and takes ages if you do persevere with it and also takes a lot of effort which can actually damage the linocut block.
The best solution is to use a cleaning fluid that breaks down the oil based printing ink and allows you to gently rub the ink away from the linoleum. I would recommend two options; vegetable oil, or if you can get it, ZestIt. Some people use white spirit or turps, but these are not very nice chemicals and I would not recommend using them. They stink and are also difficult to get rid of.