Dog is my Co-Pilot – Reduction Linoprint

I was approached by cool UK company, Pedlars, to do an exclusive print under the title “Dog is my Co-Pilot”. Pedlars sells quirky and original home-wares & gifts, both vintage and new. A love of dogs has always been a central theme of the company.

Dog is my Co-Pilot print

Inspired by pop art propaganda posters with their simple graphics and strong colours, this print is a 3 colour reduction linoprint.

Dog is my CoPilot print close up

A limited edition of 50 A3 prints were produced. Once these are sold there will never be any more printed because the process of making a reduction linoprint destroys the very printing plate that is used to create the prints – this is why it is sometimes called a suicide print!

You can see the finished print on the Pedlars website. If you’d like to find out more about the process of creating this print – read on!

First, the design for the print has to be drawn on to the piece of lino that will become the printing plate. It has to be drawn in reverse so that it is the right way round when it is printed (particularly important if there is any typography!)

Linoprint Plate1

Then, all the areas of the image that will not be printed (i.e. that will remain the colour of the paper used for printing) need to be carefully cut away. This is how my plate looked after this was done.

Linoprint plate2

This plate was then used to print the first of the three colours. The first colour (red in my case) will cover much of the print after the first pass through the press, but in the final print much of the red will be covered up by the printing of subsequent colours.

So, before I got started on the printing, I wanted to check how the three colours I would be using for the print looked when they were printed over/under each other. This would determine the order in which the colours would be printed. If, for example, I found out half way through the printing that the light blue did not cover the red effectively, or made an unwanted third colour (like purple!) it would be too late to go back and start again as the printing plate will have been cut away for the second colour – and once the lino is cut, there’s no going back!

So here are the results of that little experiment…

printmaking colour test

… I use traditional oil based printing inks – they look almost good enough to eat!

Red Ink

Here is the first colour printed.

reduction linoprint first colour

All 50 (plus a few spare) prints are printed in red at once. Then I return to the plate and cut away all the areas that I want to keep as red in the finished print. Here is the plate at this stage….

Linoplate 3

Now I print the next colour – the lighter of the 2 blues. The trickiest part of a reduction linoprint is making sure that the paper goes down on the plate in exactly the same place every time a new colour is printed, to avoid unwanted overlap of colour and keep nice sharp lines (although sometimes mis-registered prints can look really effective too). This is why it is good practice to print more than you hope to end up with in the final edition – because mistakes are bound to be made along the way! Perhaps this is another reason why it is called the suicide print!

Here is the second colour printed….

Reduction Linoprint Second Colour

prints drying

Now all the areas that will remain light blue are cut away from the lino plate… here is the newly cut plate on my press being inked up with the final very dark blue ink.

Printing Press

Ta Daaaa! The final print

Linoprint Dog is my CoPilot

Dog is my CoPilot print detail

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