Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Inking and printing

It's been a while since carving was complete and you're probably wondering where the prints are.  Sorry for anticlimax, but I was really dragging my feet when it came to buying paper.  Maybe I just wasn't ready to part with the project.  Nonetheless, here is the final step: inking and printing.


  • Brayer — This is what rolls the ink on.  I'm using a Speedball 6" soft rubber brayer.  The size of the brayer should be proportional to the size of the block (I could actually use a bigger one), and make sure it's rubber, not foam.  
  • Inks — I like to use water based inks because they are easier to clean, but oil based inks work well too and don't dry as quickly.  I chose a dark blue for the water, and a light blue for the octopus.
  • Something to roll the ink on — These things include marble or granite, glass, or plexiglass.  I actually use the back of my cookie sheets.  It just needs to be something with a smooth, flat, non-porous surface.   
  • Baren — This is used to rub the paper and help transfer the ink.  It's a great tool to have, but the back of a wooden spoon is a good stand-in.   
  • Paper — Most papers will work for this type of printing so feel free to experiment.  I prefer to use something thick but a little soft, but I'm using cheaper paper until I get the print just the way I want it.  
Squirt some ink on the flat surface and the brayer over top, giving it a thick, even coat.  Don't glob it on, but don't be stingy either.

Roll it out

Roll the inked up brayer onto the block until it has an even layer of ink.  The block may still suck up some ink the first time so make sure it's completely coated.  It might take a couple tries.

I'll go in later and cut out some more off the areas where
I don't want the ink going

Lay the paper on top of the block, leaving enough room for a border.  Rub the baren in small circles with gentle pressure over entire surface.  If you skip this step the ink won't transfer, or do it half hearted the print will come out blotchy.  

Try to keep from saying "wax on, wax off."

Pull the paper up and let the ink dry completely.  Repeat with the second block on the same sheet of paper.

There are techniques to lining the blocks up correctly, but I don't always do things the proper way.  My technique simply involves trying to line up the corners and then eyeballing it.  Here's the final print!


It took a couple bad tries before this one came out.  At first I wasn't using enough ink, you really need to be generous with it.  The fact that it doesn't perfectly line up actually gives it a letterpress sort of feel.  I'm still going to work to get the ink to cover a little better because it's a bit splotchy, and I'll post the results when I get one I like.  Until the, here are some closeups showing the details.

Very pleased with the lettering. 

There he is.

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