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Welcome to everything you ever wanted to know about linoleum block printing.

Updated: Mar 12

Hi All,

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Diane Castle Babcock and I have created reduction process linoleum block prints for forty-six years. Yes, I was five years old when I started (just kidding). Most of my imagery is based on the landscape of upstate New York, and in particular, the Adirondacks, where I lived for fifteen years.

Here is a brief explanation of the process:

I begin each print with a colored pencil and charcoal drawing. I turn the drawing face down on the block and rub it; the charcoal outline transfers in reverse onto the linoleum.

Before I print, I cut away the white areas of the image. The areas that are carved away will not be inked. The carving tools I use are V-shaped and U-shaped gouges. When all the white areas are carved, I print the first color on all the paper I am going to use. The entire edition, or series of prints, must be printed at once.

After the first color is printed, I go back to the linoleum and cut out what is going to stay that color (if I printed red, I cut out what will stay red). Then I print the second color over the first. I have to register, or line up the print with the block each time I add a color. The layers of ink give the print its glossy and textural quality. My prints are four to six stages of carving and printing.

As I complete the colors, I carve more and more away from the block, so that when the print is done, most of the block is carved away. Because the block is destroyed, my prints are truly limited editions. All my prints are hand pressed with a bamboo barren, which is a traditional Japanese wood block printing tool. I use handmade Japanese paper for my prints and they are framed with acid-free materials.

Want to learn more? I will be hosting demonstrations and workshops later this year.

Sign up for my newsletter to get the details:

Here is my current project. I begin with a sketch, then transfer the drawing onto the block. Next, I carved out the white parts of my image and printed the first color. Now I need to cut away the parts of the image I want to stay black. Check back to see my progress:)

To get updates on this project, along with updates on shows, workshops and new work, sign up for my newsletter, using the link below.

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