art cold wax mixed media oil

Make Your Own Lino-Stamps

When I create art, I aspire to draw interesting details as much as possible. Many artists use stamps and stencils that they purchase. For me, I’d prefer to make my own. I realize I don’t make the tape, or the painting surface, or the paint brushes, so I have no problem using multiple different objects for adding texture and intricate linework to my art pieces. I have used skewers, crumpled tissue paper, bubble wrap and combs, as well as alcohol, water, solvent, plastic netting, screwdrivers, buttons, my own clay/ceramic stamps, maker’s mark and rollers, toothpicks and more. Really, anything I think would add interest is fair game.

In one of my first projects, I drew art with a glue gun on my quartz countertop, that released from the table cleanly. It works pretty well but wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.

In one of my classes, I cut “masking stencils” from a manila folder, taped it down, and used it to negative paint around. This works nicely as well.

Today, I decided to try something different…linotype using linoleum and a carving tool with multiple blade types. It’s the first time I had ever done anything like this, and it was quite fun.

linotype supplies: linoleum block, graphite,
linotype supplies: linoleum block, graphite, and speedball carving tool with multiple blades

I cut out a small rectangle of the speedy-carve block for my first project.

Then, I drew a sample paisley design on tracing paper. My thought is that I can practice on paper before committing to the linoleum. The other reason is that I can flip the design so that it’s mirrored on the block but will be the proper perspective when the design is transferred with paint.

paisley design on Tracing Paper with graphite pencil
paisley design on Tracing Paper with graphite pencil

Next, I flipped the design, positioned it on the block, and began tracing through the paper. This transferred the graphite pretty well on the block, although I did touch some of the parts up by drawing directly onto the linoleum with the pencil.

flipped the tracing paper design with the graphite side down on top of the block, then traced over it to press and transfer the pencil onto the linoleum.
Next, I switched the blades on the carving tool to suit the shapes i needed to carve out.

Using the speed-ball carving tool, I carefully but intuitively carved out the shapes as best I could. This was the most creative, enjoyable and meditative step in the process. Since this is a pretty small piece to work on, it was fairly tight spaced and intricate. I took my time and turned the “canvas” as needed to help ease the process.

I had no clue how this would turn out, but I figured I could adjust it if it didn’t transfer well.

Rolling paint/cold wax onto the stamp with a brayer.

I put some asphaltum colored paint onto a piece of paper, then rolled it with a brayer. Next, I transferred the paint from the brayer to the block.

transfer paint to painting on the wood panel using a brayer.

Using a larger brayer, I flipped the block over so the paint touched the surface of my painting then used the brayer to press the block down. I held the stamp down firmly to make sure it didn’t move during this process, so as not to smear the design.

Once I was satisfied that I rolled the entire stamp completely, I lifted the block so I could see the final result and VOILA! I think it came out great. You may want to practice on a scrap piece of paper before transferring the paint to your art… but I guess I was feeling brave!

final lino-stamp on oil and cold wax portrait design

I truly enjoyed this process and plan to make more creative designs. I love the way it came out. It adds detail and interest that I just can’t get with a brush. Maybe, I could come close if I “thinned” the paint down, used small brushes, and took my time to work on the details directly on the canvas. I suppose I still need practice to accomplish this method successfully. However, with the stamp, I carve it once, and can use it over and over an unlimited amount of times. I like that I experienced “a change of pace” from typical fine art design and achieved a unique custom effect.

Very excited to see what you come up with and to start creating more of my custom designs. Ecstatic that I tried this process out. It was easier than I suspected and produced very satisfying results.

Happy arting!

Here, you can see, I have been quite obsessed with carving my own lino-art:

I spent a lot of time on this koi fish. the back of the book was previously smudged from placing on my art table. the lino-print really comes out very clean!

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