6 Things you must know before you buy a lino cutting & printing kit
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Lino printing is a fun, easy and rewarding craft which can be used to create unique pieces of artwork whether it is decorating cards, gifts or stationery items. Buying the individual pieces that make up a lino printing kit can be expensive. Starter kits generally prove far better value for money. There are 6 factors you must consider before buying any lino starter set.
1. The Lino Sheets
Lino cutting and printing is very much about practising so you will want to ensure that the lino sheets provided in any set meet 4 needs:
- i. Quantity – like any new skill you are learning or becoming re-familiar with, you will understandably be making your fair share of mistakes – so a good number of lino sheets is a must have.
- ii. Sizes – You will want a good variety of sizes simply because you will most probably want to vary the size of your work. For stamping, often used in card-making and scrapbooking, you will want a good number of small circular pieces of lino to use with the baren (stamper).
- iii. Type – there are two main types of lino: hard, traditional lino (sometimes known as Hessian) and soft lino.
- Hard lino, which gets is toughness from the mesh at the back of it, can be more difficult to cut through. In order to help soften the surface, it is often recommended that it is lightly warmed up before use. This can be achieved by placing it under a hair drier at distance or even by sitting on it!
Generally, for beginners soft lino is the preferred option as it is easier to cut (especially when carving curves) due to its greater flexibility. Also, because it has no mesh it can be used on both sides making it a cost-effective option for practice work.
- iv. Transferability – you may wish to produce lino designs with the aid of a stencil or even just a free-hand design. At other times you may wish to transfer your work from tracing paper to lino. For these reasons, you will want lino sheets on to which pencil will transfer easily and which will be visible on the sheet. Grey lino sheet is not the best colour for these purposes as it is difficult to see pencil marks against it.
2. The Handle of the carving tool
Being able to create so many different projects so easily and with so much fun, lino cutting can be an addictive and time-consuming hobby! Therefore, you will want a carving tool that will sit comfortably in the palm of your hand.
There are two main types of handle available: plastic and wooden. For most it is a personal preference just as it is when choosing which handle you prefer for your screw driver! As well the material, look to see how well the handle is likely to fit into your hand. Ideally, it will want to be curved.
It goes without saying that you will want blades that are sharp enough to carve through the lino easily and smoothly.
You will also want a good variety of blade sizes in order to be able to achieve different carving techniques. Fine ‘V’ shaped cutters give you finer lines for detailed work. In comparison, the wider ‘U’ shaped blades are designed to create broader lines; they are especially useful for fast removal of larger areas like backgrounds.
Tip: Chose a lino set that contains a flat blade as this can be used to not only cut your lino but to also sketch your outlines.
With sharp blades in operation, safety has to be considered as the highest priority. Three of the most important areas of safety are:
- i. A hand guard – while your cutting hand is working away, your other hand will be required for support. By being exposed, your supportive hand is at risk of the blade coming towards it. Whenever you apply force to the blade or work close to the supportive hand the risk of injury increases.
A hand guard keeps the supporting hand protected at all times and is, therefore, a key component of any lino kit.
- ii. Inserting and removal of blades – with most kits you will need to insert the blade into the groove of the handle using your fingers; however, extreme care should be applied when doing this. You should never handle the bottom of the blade where it is sharp, only the top of the blade piece.
When removing blades, again, extreme care should be taken.
To view how blades should be handled using the Zieler lino cutting and printing set please see the blade safety sheet.
- iii. Blade storage – leaving blades lying around poses a safety risk so a useful addition to any comprehensive lino kit will be some kind of safe storage for the blades. This also helps blades from getting lost.
5. Tray, Ink & Roller
The tray is perhaps the most overlooked part of any lino kit. Typically, it is made from plastic and, if the quality is poor, it may warp easily and not end up being flat. If this happens, it will have a knock on effect on your ink and roller. Your ink may not be an even thickness in the tray; while your roller will not be picking up a consistent amount of ink. Good and consistent ink is essential for lino printing.
Black tends to be the most popular colour of block printing ink used for lino printing. Only a small amount of ink is normally used so the ink in your set should go a long way. Other colour inks are available and are certainly worth trying once you have mastered the basics using the black ink.
A roller that gives good ink coverage is essential. After all, if you’ve spent time carefully cutting your design onto your lino, you will want a roller that is smooth and well balanced to give you the best printing results. If you are designing birthday cards or Christmas cards you will want a wide roller – anything that is 100mm or above should be fine for this.
Learning a new skill is exciting and you will want to get started straight away. Lino kits consist of many parts so it is useful to have an introductory guide to show you how to use the pieces that make up the set. This, together with useful expert tips and project ideas, will make your experience all the more rewarding.
The Zieler lino cutting and printing kit has been developed with the help of lino cutting instructor Alison Husbands of Sewing Box www.sewingboxhove.co.uk
Lino has been used for print making for over 100 years and as a hobby it is as popular as ever. Some people looking to start are completely new to it. Others are looking to pick up from where they left off at school years ago in the Design & Technology classroom.
The right lino set will not only be one which has all the tools you need to get started, but one which encourages you to practise and gives you maximum enjoyment.
To assist you further with the Zieler lino cutting and printing kit please see the summary table below.
|Product||Lino Sheets||Handle of the carving tool||Blades||Hand Guard||Tray, Ink, Roller||Guide|
16 soft lino sheets:
10 x 43mm round stampers
Curved wooden handle
1 x flat blade
2 x different sized ‘V’ blades
2 x different sized ‘U’ blades
Rigid, flat, plastic tray
100ml black block printing ink
100mm wide, smooth, durable roller
16-page guide including instructions, tips and projects.
Includes blade safety sheet included
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