I've been getting into linocutting. It's a shame cause I have pretty much nothing to do with all these linocuts I've been creating. I wanted to get bags printed in China and then realized I could do it myself and wouldn't have to pick one design - my only limitation was how many I wanted to carve. When we went to the store there was a huge variety of qualities of linocut (I didn't know there would be so many!) and of course we picked the cheapest one. I went with Chris and explained to everyone who didn't ask that we were beginners. I wanted to paint a picture of a couple who tries "fun" craft projects on the weekend, even though Chris didn't enjoy even one minute of it, despite the entire carving he nicely made me for Valentine's Day of a man giving a woman their actual heart.
My first linocut was my most popular (more like only) print at the gallery of a man in a panda mask pushing a woman in a teddy bear mask. This did not go quickly. As the linocut was very hard, I needed to use a hair dryer to soften it. The problem was that it only stayed soft for about 30 seconds at a time.
I got the hang of it in my second linocut of the queen of hearts, which had a lot more details, (I suppose that's why I chose it), and started to like it. In fact I started to like it quite a lot and felt the promise of addiction coming on, not aided by the niggling feeling that this outdated technology was mostly if not completely useless, having only days ago printed numerous images that I did not have to painstakingly carve every detail of on my mom's printer.
After that I decided to get down to business. The reason I started this whole linocutting process was to print bags for my witch kits, cohesive little sets each with a theme - first based on chakras, then parts of the brain, and finally tarot cards which I still don't like but do like the designs of.
Lying in bed awake one night a few before Valentine's day I dreamed up two valentines-themed carvings I could do. The Queen of Hearts Card, which I'd already done, against my better judgment, and "The Lovers," which depicts two naked people (a man and a woman) holding hands in what is perhaps the Garden of Eden, a massive winged figure presiding over them.
This proved even more difficult than the tough linocut as I'd remembered the other varieties and gone back to the store as fast as my chris legs would carry me.
Always the cheapskate, I however went for the second to most expensive one and that proved even worse than the first variety as it was just too soft to distinguish between marks. Worse, something about the material didn't quite hold the graphite lines in place. And finally, I worried that once I was done with the painstaking cutting process, it would crumble in my hands the first of perhaps second time I printed it.
I never finished it. I gave up somewhere around the many grooves which I couldn't see within the wings of the massive figure and went to do something else, putting off it's completion until I could figure out how to erase the graphite which now covered the entire rubber block, making it impossible to make out where I was supposed to cut.
Having tried and failed in such a way, I stayed away from linocut for the better part of a week. But something about my own insistence on the bags made me come back to give it another go, this time helpfully armed with the most expensive linocut in the smallest size I could find.
This time I decided to try the easiest thing I could think of - the phases of the moon. I drew this myself, using a bottle cap to make the sizing consistent and discovering that I could push it forward slightly to make the second mark of the new moon.
Because the design was simple - just five spherical shapes - it went smoothly and, emboldened by this victory, I set to work on yet another Tarot-inspired carving.
I managed to print out all 78 Tarot Cards and cut them in not too much time
I had the idea to make the cover of the Rider Deck, which is the Magician. I figured this would be an easy card and I could even forgo all the leafy vegetation (or whatever that's supposed to be) at the top and the bottom. As it happened, this one too was a success. Instead of making all the marks at once (during the tracing step), I only made the obvious ones and then sort of figured out how to carve the rest. Drawing it myself would probably have been easier than trying to figure out how to translate all that shrubbery from a mess of graphite. In the end I didn't forgo the shrubbery, just made it up myself.