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Combination Relief and Intaglio Print making.


There has recently been some discussion on several blogs of different techniques used by printmakers.Vivien and Robyn asked me to explain a method I had been shown.
And did being a novice stop me from wading in? No! Of course not. I had my two penn’orth, saying that colourful intaglio prints could be produced from lino blocks, a medium usually regarded as relief. Access to a press is certainly preferable, if not essential, mainly because we use heavy paper. But I’d like to try this by hand, using something like rice paper. It would certainly be a good test of my wonky arm!

My  friend, Heather, who taught me lino printing, agreed to demonstrate her method while I flashed the Fuji. ( We have assumed some knowledge of printmaking terminology.)

A guest post, written and demonstrated by Heather Walker.

(with encouragement from Tammy and Vincent)


Putting colour into a relief print in one easy technique for lino printing.


Lino cut must not be deep or you will risk “bleeding” of ink under  pressure.   Intaglio colours need to be thinner than the relief colour.

Seasoning the plateseasoning-plate-with-linseed-oil“Season” the lino block by wiping over with a linseed oiled cloth.

Inkingdifferent-colours-applied-to-platePlace colour into the incisions using a stippling brush, soft spatula, or with fingers[wearing gloves].

Inked plate before removing excesscoloured-plate-before-removing-excess-ink

Any surface colour can be blotted with newsprint

Note how much ink came off!blotter

Polishing the plate, keeping the hand as flat as possibleblotting-with-newsprint

After a second polishing with newsprintafter-second-polishingThe plate now ready for a top roll of the final colour

Rolling the top colourtop-rolling-final-colourRoll relief colour onto the surface. Add a little more pressure to the press to pick up the intaglio colours. It is an advantage to use damp paper.

Hot off the press!lifting-paper-from-plateLifting the print from the plate

The finished printfinal-print3


Di, this is the basics. Sounds easy,but, as we well know, it takes practice. I make allowances to fit the weather on the day (today was showery, but breezy) and go by ”feel”.

Good luck to anyone who wants to give it a go. Heather Walker




Author: dinahmow

A New Zealander, currently living in tropical Queensland,Australia (with 2 cats and one Main Man).Old enough to remember George VI, white tennis balls and life-before-television.You want more? Read the blog!

13 thoughts on “Combination Relief and Intaglio Print making.

  1. what a great post, i really want to try this now and have plenty of lino around to experiment with…no press of course.


  2. m…well, it should be possible, providing you use fairly thin paper and can get enough even pressure to force the paper into the grooves without a) tearing or b) smudging. I’ll let you know if I’m successful!


  3. Fantastic demonstration of the inking process, Dinah. And many thanks to Heather! I can’t wait to get back to the press to try this.

    The step that I’m still not clear on is the actual carving. The intaglio part looks like a very consistent depth of design. Was that hand carved or was it a chemical process? Sorry to be so ignorant but I am fascinated.


  4. Robyn…Thanks. And,yes, it is entirely hand-cut. I should say that Heather is one of the best cutters and she’s been doing it for over 20 years!
    I don’t know which blade you use, but try to keep a low angle to avoid deep gouging.
    And if you find in proofing that some areas are too deep, use a paper stump or cotton bud to remove some ink from the “valley.”


  5. excellent post :>D

    we used to put a layer of foam between the lino and the rollers to help push the paper into the grooves

    It would be intersting to try it with thin handmade paper as you suggest – certainly something to thinkk about.

    Working small, a flower press would give extra pressure for those without a press.


  6. vivien…thankyou. And I probably should have said (but just assumed artists would know!) that we always use press blankets. Heather’s standard blanket is a thick felted woollen one,about 1/4 inch thick. And I should also say that a “cover sheet” of clean newsprint (butchers’ paper) is laid between the plate-and-paper and the blanket, to minimise any ink stains.
    I find flower presses with corner screws not heavy enough.A book press with centre screw sometimes works. Or the car jack! But only for small plates.


  7. Maybe you could kidnap Heather and have her do some more linocut technique demonstrations for us 😉

    My printmaking teacher has an antique book press that is wonderful for anything up to about A4. I’m going to keep an eye out at the antique markets. Not quite sure how I’d carry it home though.


  8. Robyn…I don’t think I need to resort to kidnap. I could just ask nicely next time we’re having coffee (often!)
    If you find a working press, pay the taxi whatever he asks!
    I have seen (and even used) an old converted washing macine wringer! But they almost always need re-sleeving and, unless married to a metal worker, can be horribly expensive to convert. Also, they are a bit awkward to use without help. But don’t be deterred. As a last resort, you could visit us! 😉


  9. oooooooooh!!!!! I have some lino and tools that I’ve had for a very long time. . . is it true that you have to heat the lino with a hairdryer before you try and cut?


  10. iltv…Actually, just leaving lino out in the sun, say on the car hood, on a hot day will be enough to soften it. But in Putney in January a hair dryer would definitely be a “good thing!” No hair dryer? No sun? Leave it in front of the fire/heater for a few minutes.
    And for newbies: we do this so that the sharp things we use will not skid and do damage to either the plate or the artist. 😉


  11. thanks! (I thought I’d subscribed to comment replies, but didn’t get this)

    you are right about Putney in January – Mini-Teen has a hair dryer, I’ll use that




  12. I recently began printmaking starting with (mostly) linocuts and drypoint. I read that one of my favorite artists, Eric Gill, had used woodcuts as an intaglio process and discussed this with my teacher; she seemed a/be-mused to start with but we used a standard moistened paper with oil-based ink with additional pressure on the press. I used a fine “V” cutter so the ink wouldn’t be pulled out during the wiping off of excess ink. It worked beautifully and has the advantage for me, if I get the registration right (something I am still refining) of ‘keying in’ the rest of the relief process. I had earlier tried getting fine lines in relief but with lino the remaining material is too weak to hold the pressure during printing and the lino crushes enfeebling the line! It means I have to rethink the laying etc but provides a strong contrast, if required, again the areas of relief. I have started adding monoprint to the process to develop a more expressive range of texture and hue. I suppose that, as a beginner, I am trying to get the most out of materials that are inexpensive and easy to work (and making mistakes is easier to learn from without too many tears!). I should say my teacher came back the following week and said she had been going through her archives as part of a move and discovered lino-intaglio that she had done as a student; must be something about being naive and curious when one starts something new?


  13. ian…welcome. You certainly seem to be having fun with your printmaking!
    There are many teachers and many approaches and, often, experimentation produces some stunning results. Good luck to you.


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