The press I use to print my linocuts was built in 2003 by my husband Sergey Zhiboedov. The frame is made of solid oak and pressure is applied vertically by a 10-ton hydraulic jack. It measures 30"l x 36"w x 22"h and has the print area 24"x30".
A print is a piece of paper on which a design has been imprinted from a matrix made of some selected medium, usually stone, wood, or metal. In a relief print, the image is printed from a raised surface on the matrix, so that the printmaker creates the matrix by cutting away that part which he does not want to show in the image. To create a relief print the ink is applied to the raised surface of the matrix, which is then pressed onto a sheet of paper. Examples of relief prints are woodcuts, linocuts, and wood engravings. Only a limited number of prints can be produced from a plate. Every print is slightly different and considered an original piece of artwork, not a reproduction. Traditionally, original prints are titled, signed, and numbered in pencil. Other printmaking techniques I use include monotype, drypoint, woodcut, and collagraph.
Linocut is a relief printing technique (similar to woodcut) in which a sheet of linoleum is used for the relief surface. The design is drawn on a linoleum plate. Then everything that shall remain unpainted, is cut away with the use of a knife or a tool called gouge. Next, the plate is covered with ink. The final print is produced by pressing the paper firmly against the inked plate using a hand-operated press.
Prints in color can be produced in several ways. The reduction method is a printmaking technique when a multi-colored print is made with the use of a single block. Through a series of progressive cuttings, inkings, and printings, the image slowly emerges while the actual block is destroyed. A reduction print can therefore never be reprinted. See "Monterey Cypresses" and "Prophecy". Click here to see the reduction printing step by step. Another method of colored printing requires a separate plate for every shape of a particular color and each color is printed on a separate run. See Nude in a Studio Series. So-called "rainbow inking" is used when different colors are applied on a single plate simultaneously using two or more brayers (rollers). See my linocut "Eve". A linocut printed in one color from a single plate can also be colored by hand using watercolor. See Greek Myths Series and Winged Lions. One or more of these techniques can be combined in a single artwork. In my Birthday Flowers Series the reduction method, multiple plates, and rainbow inking are creatively used together to achieve the subtle painterly effect. Click here to see this method step by step. In a series of work done in 2007 - Paper Towers - I combined the reduction method with rainbow inking in every layer. Once more linoleum block printing proved to be a challenging medium full of possibilities. But how to choose which method will be the most efficient for a particular job? Click here to read what I take into consideration when choosing the right technique.