Here we go again…

I keep running into the same inking problem on my linocuts…and can’t seem to get a clean, solid print from linoleum. I’ve read this is a problem on platen presses, but I’m determined to get good results. I’ve varied the type of paper (Rives BFK is amazing). I’ve spent hours on overlays and underlays and interlays. I’ve tried different inks. I’ve double-inked the linoleum. I’ve double-pressed the image on the paper (both work to some degree)…Today, was no different than in the past…except for one small thing…sanding.

I read about sanding down linoleum blocks to make them level and to smooth the surface (Letterpress Commons). I have to admit that this was a little terrifying…the thought of ruining yet another piece of linoleum (I have quite the collection of ruined pieces). I lightly sanded the linoleum. It did print better…not perfect, but better.

I think I need to sand more, but this scares me. I can see where the linoleum is visibly smoother now, but there are still areas of very tiny mottling (and these are the areas that don’t print well). I worry, though, that it may be too late for this project…what if I go too far and ruin the whole thing.

I get that this is not an easy one answer kind of problem. That seems to be the case with most things in printing and in the world. It’s not a matter of doing one thing differently.  Instead, it’s more like a tweak here, and a tweak there, a shimmy here, and a shim there. It’s not liberating to toil through this process (though I feel like I should say it is). It’s difficult. It’s tedious. It’s time consuming. Yet somehow, this makes it more satisfying, at least that’s what I tell myself.

I’m off to find that sandpaper…fingers crossed.


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