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  1. #1
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    The 'Suicide Method' of Linoleum Printing

    Saw this great artist today at the bi-annual Brewery Artwalk in LA.

    I was intrigued by his description of his process:

    In this 1st stage, the number of prints in your edition must be determined. This is due to the fact that once a color/stage is printed, one can never reprint that stage because that same block will then need to be carved in order to print the next stage. There is an amazing feeling of suspense as the piece gradually begins to reveal itself through layering of color. A certain “leap of faith” is required with the medium because once printing begins, one can never go back. This is also why it is sometimes referred to as the “suicide method”. But once you give in to the wondrous mystery of the process, you realize the journey is the destination.

    http://web.mac.com/davelefner/Site/Process.html


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  4. #2
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    Ilaekae is offline P.O.W.! Leader, Complete Idiot, Super Moderator
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    This is called "waste-block" or "reduction-block" printing, and it's the single most difficult form of multicolor printing in existence, mentally and physically. It was first done as a major artform in China around the 1950s, and many US block printers learned about it soon after.

    There is an incredible printmaker named Mary Hamilton who lives a few miles north of Pittsburgh who has been doing it for years, and I own eight or nine of her prints. She's done as many as 60 colors from one block, if the stories I picked up are true. the ones I own are eight to 15 colors, which is impressive by anyone's standards.

    The process violates all sane logic that applies to normal printing. Usually, the master plate with all the detail is created first and then the secondary fill-in color blocks are cut using the master as a guide. It's sort of like doing a comic book in color. The drawing comes first, which determines the color areas.

    In waste-block, the process is totally backwards. The least important part of the print is usually some part of the background or some minor color scattered throughout the print, and this is printed first. After THAT printing run, the next color is refined and printed from the same block. This continues until the final details appear on the final cutting. This means that on a 20-color print, the FINAL part of the print is 20 layers of ink thick.

    Not something you want to attempt if you're one of those people who can't even find their underwear drawer without help...

    Thanks for the post, jfrancis...
    Last edited by Ilaekae; April 18th, 2010 at 02:24 AM.
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  6. #3
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    So, if you have 20 different colors on 20 different layers, the tiny detail that you printed with the first cut will be the darkest, being a mix of all 20 colors? The more colors you want to mix to make up a certain spot, the earlier you carve it in the block, and if you want an area to be of a purer color, you will carve it later in the process?

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    we did like 4 layers in school i couldnt imagine doing 60 layers, i mean if you messed up at layer 59 that you have to start all over..

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    "So, if you have 20 different colors on 20 different layers, the tiny detail that you printed with the first cut will be the darkest, being a mix of all 20 colors? The more colors you want to mix to make up a certain spot, the earlier you carve it in the block, and if you want an area to be of a purer color, you will carve it later in the process?"

    I think you twisted this 180° accidentally, Serp'.

    The part of the image that has the most ink coverage is cut first, and printed. The next few cuts make a "new" block out of your block by removing more wood, meaning it's the next most coverage of ink. You have the 20 layers piled up correct, but the image becomes more detailed as you advance through the cuttings and printings, meaning the final print image from the block has the LEAST inked area going down. Keep in mind that the inks are usually pretty opaque, so each layer pretty much covers up all the layers under it.

    The best way to visualize this process is to think like pre-press programs like Quark and Adobes page thing work. To keep colors where the belong, the programs knock out an area of the background color underneath another color, then traps (slightly overprints all around) to get the effect you want.

    In waste-block, you CAN NOT KNOCKOUT the background color, you can only overprint it. If you think about this a second, you'll realize how complex a really simple image can become in plating.

    For example, a dark tree branch running across a blue sky AND a big yellowish white moon in that sky sounds easy...Until you realize you have to...

    1. print the blue first (as a full block solid with no cuts)

    2. then cut away all parts of the sky that ISN'T under the moon and tree branch. Print this in yellowish white.

    3. then cut away the moon except where it is UNDER the tree branch. Print this in whatever color.

    You CAN'T add wood back into the block, you can only remove.
    No position or belief, whether religious, political or social, is valid if one has to lie to support it.--Alj Mary

    Ironically, the concept of SIMPLICITY is most often misunderstood by simple-minded people. --Alj Mary

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    Ilaekae you should hook up with MB to offer a beginners course to do this type of printing...
    "Nihil est in intellectu quod non prius in sensu" | SB | Portfolio | FJGC (blog) | DA (Profile) | EJERCICIOS DE COLOR

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    GriNGo, I could probably develop a demonstration with thumbnails that would serve as an explanation/tutorial to at least give people an accurate idea of how it works, and how you have to plan out your color breaks in advance. The biggest stumbling block to wrap your head around is that you could destroy an entire run of 100 prints by a single mistake on the second last "plate" to be printed. You could probably cheat with some wood putty without feeling too bad and to preserve your sanity (I would after all that work...:p ).

    Give me a bit of time to think about the best way to do it and I'll come up with something.
    No position or belief, whether religious, political or social, is valid if one has to lie to support it.--Alj Mary

    Ironically, the concept of SIMPLICITY is most often misunderstood by simple-minded people. --Alj Mary

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    I did the waste-block thing in school. We only used a few colors though. We came up with a design then:

    1)Cut away what wasn't to be printed
    2)Set up the registration marks
    3)Started with the lightest colors. Roll on paint, press, hope you didn't use too much paint and bleeding was at a minimum.
    4)Cut away those areas
    5)Moved on to the next step down in terms of value
    6)Repeat 2-5 until design was finished.

    Registration was a bitch because we used rubber blocks that liked to slide around or warped or didn't line up just right. It's a great exercise in dealing with your mistakes over and over.
    "Astronomy offers an aesthetic indulgence not duplicated in any other field. This is not an academic or hypothetical attraction and should require no apologies, for the beauty to be found in the skies has been universally appreciated for unrecorded centuries."

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    I just finished my advanced printing class in school and I did 12 colours and that was probably one of the most difficult/strenuos/ really rewarding in the end things I have ever done. One thing you can do if you screw up, as long as the piece isn't sliver sized, is place it back on the block with some wood glue very sparingly applied, although you run the risk of the piece coming off during the printing process. Overall it does require some backward thinking, but i found it quite enjoyable.

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