Gettin' Crafty: printing blocks

For all those who give pom-pom critters for birthdays, feel an urge to stick googly eyes on everything or just occasionally get a twitch to fold some origami, we bring you "Gettin' Crafty" where we feature a craft you can easily make with minimal supplies and limited finances. So not everyone can be super-hip screen printers, but anyone can try. This week's craft is our attempt at carving and printing with some linoleum tiles and, unfortunately, some band-aids. Supplies

  • Linoleum block
  • A carving tool (sold at art supply stores, in the section with printmaking. Generally sold as a handle part, and then the cutter insert)
  • Paint (you can buy special paints for printmaking, but as a novice I used acrylic)
  • Paintbrush or roller
  • Pencil


1. Begin by drawing the design you want to print onto the carving block. Remember you will be carving the negative of the image, so this requires a bit more thinking than just "draw".

2. Once you have the image or design you want, consider beginning carving. There are a lot of shapes and styles of cutters to insert into the handle, so be sure to get an appropriate one. As a beginner, I used the "no. 1" size, a plain, v-shaped cutter that was easy to maneuver.

3. Be really careful when carving into the linoleum. Do not, no matter how much better of a grip you seem to get, put your hand at the far side of the block. If you do, the cutter may slip off the block and into your hand. Drawing blood. Not ideal.

4. When you are done, and the design is complete, do a test run with a scrap of paper.

5. Paint on the linoleum itself, and do a test run of how the block's design transfers.

6. You may need to go back and carve out some more, depending on how the print turned out and what your vision is.

7. When you are done, start stamping it up! Envelopes, notebooks, cards, whatever needs to have your personality imposed on it.

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