Linocut: Isis

I feel bad about not having posted in over half a year. I’ve been faithful to my craft(s), just not to documenting the step-by-step.

However: Today I did!

Some time ago I got hooked on printmaking thanks to the lovely Jess of Frosted Treats. What started as a fun little project of gouging rubber erasers to make stamps evolved into full-out linoleum-carving, which I have essentially taught myself to do… so if there are any experienced printmakers out there seeing this, you are not allowed to laugh at my amateur ways.

The tools I used were handy-dandy pencils, erasers, a 5×7 lino block (battleship gray from Blick) and Speedball lino cutters (mostly size 1 for Isis, 2 and 5 to clear the rest of the block).

First I made a sketch that would fit inside the lino block’s dimensions:


There was no need to draw the left arm/wing. For the sake of symmetry, when I traced the sketch onto tracing paper, I just folded the sketch in half, copied the right wing onto the wrong side of the paper (making sure it aligned with her shoulder), then re-drew its “mirror” image on the right side. (I hope that makes sense.)

Next step is placing the traced image face-down onto the block. I taped the paper to the block to keep it from shifting around as I rubbed the image with the back of a spoon. It’s good to use a soft, dark pencil to transfer clear marks.



On the block, I went over the lines again to thicken them and added X’s to remind myself to cut INSIDE the lines, not the lines themselves:


I used the smallest lino cutter to very carefully cut away the areas I wanted to show up white when printing. I ended up only fucking up twice (a record!), but at least it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be salvaged. I used the bigger cutters to gouge out the rest of the block to simulate rays emanating from Isis. I chose to draw her with a solar-disk headdress that is usually associated with a different Egyptian goddess (Hathor) but I preferred it to her usual headdress (a throne… bit silly-looking atop a head), and Isis seems to be portrayed with it sometimes, anyway!

Here’s the block before inking:

Image   I used water-soluble block printing ink (because oil-based is a pain in the butt) and ran a few tests on different types of paper:


Behold my ghetto workshop.

The test prints revealed that there was actually very little to fix… the black area around her needs to be trimmed in areas and a bit of cleaning up around the block’s edges to keep the “rays” from looking “boxed in,” and then we’ll be good to go!



Hope you enjoyed seeing the process!