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A rookie guide to linocutting

Published September 28, 2016, by Stina Axelson


Are you a hand-carving-rookie and need guidance on how to begin?

So you want to create something truly amazing by hand carving your own designs and have no clue on where to begin. Trying a new technique can be very daunting.

Maybe you have fiddled around with potato prints and want to move on to something that lasts longer and is more durable, then cutting in linoleum is a great option. There is a jungle of information to go through out there. Not to mention realizing that it will most likely take forever to perfect a great print. Don´t let that stop you.

To get you started and point you in a direction we asked the skilled craftsmen in the community Linocut friends for some rookie advice, here is what they said.



Start easy

Play around with circles, dashes, dots, and lines. Start with freestyle shapes and marks to see what happens.

Remember to reverse

If you are cutting text, remember to reverse the image onto the lino.

Carve on a non-slip surface

Use a non-slip carpet to place your lino on when cutting. You will save a lot of energy.

Be careful

Always cut away from your hands. Hold the lino with your hands to the side or behind the direction you are cutting. It is easy to slip and give yourself a nasty injury.

Go slow and experiment

Learn the textures that different gouges provide. Use a small drill to make marks. Laye a screw on its side and tap with a hammer. Make short sharp marks as opposed to long marks. Shallow versus deep.

Use basic equipment

Speedball inks/rollers will get you started. Use basic printmaking paper and experiment a lot.

Sand before print

Give it a light sanding with fine sandpaper before you start and it will print so much better.

Use good rollers

If you can, spend your money on good rollers with a bit of give – softer Japanese ones or durathane are good.

Sharp tools and fresh lino

Sharp tools give you more control and enable you to cut clean lines. Linoleum is made from natural material and over time dries out and becomes brittle. Fresh linoleum smells of linseed oil and is flexible.

It will take time

Remember that inking up and printing are learned skills as valuable as cutting and take time to get right.

Trust the process

Have fun and ask questions.

And DO make mistakes!

It is lots of trial and error and a great way to learn. We hope that this was useful advice. If you would like to add any advice to our list, feel free to post a comment below.

Enjoy <3 //Stina


Stina Axelson

Stina Axelson

Always making and creating and fun to hang out with. She finds it hard to follow instructions and keeps a box of treasured papers.