Prints charming


Firstly, this.

Q: When is a mum not a mum?

A: When she is a person in her own right, with her own set of interests and sense of identity.

**Silence…tumbleweed rolls by**

What? Were you expecting a joke? Sorry chaps…give it time and you’ll quickly realise I don’t do jokes – any humour I generate is almost always an accidental by-product of me being a bit of an arse. Or it’s puns. I do those a bit, so if you do like puns you might be in luck.

But anyhoo…you may be able to tell that I’ve gotten a bit excited about my new “adventures in selfishness”, which is how I cannot but help but think of my self-rediscovery project. I can feel it’s starting to pay off, only in a small way, but significant. Yes, I still have an issue with the ever-growing bundle of unsorted clothing that’s now spilling out of not-one-but-two laundry baskets but I am struggling bravely on and trying to give fewer sh*ts about that sort of thing and just enjoy having a bit of fun and seeing what I’m capable of, creatively speaking.

My latest self-indulgent use of hobby time has been playing with my brand new lino cutting & printing kit. I stumbled across the kit in a local charity shop, unused, still in the wrapper, RRP £34.99 (I know this ‘cos the price sticker is still on the box), I picked it up for a mere 7 quid. Bargain of the month and all for a good cause. It is a great charity shop  – they’ve bothered to group everything by colour which means I can save precious minutes of my life not having to look through anything yellow. A colour I will never wear, except possibly if dressing up as an extra from the Walking Dead*, due to the unsightly draining effect it has on my skin tone.

So yeah, the lino kit – what a find! I hadn’t tried this craft since I was about 14 at secondary school. It was one of those things that you do just the once in Art class and then never really think about again. I can vaguely remember the print I came up with at school; it was the inside of a cut-up bell pepper with the seeds, which ended up looking pretty abstract and rather decent if I may say so. Like everything else from back then, it’s long gone – binned, no doubt, by one of my parents during one of our house moves (I’m not bitter). I recalled really enjoying the process (is there something wrong with me that I get so enthusiastic about activities involving very sharp instruments?), so was really keen to give this another bash and see what I could come up with. And as Spring is now well and truly within reach (THANK YOU UNIVERSE! ABOUT TIME! My body has JUST ABOUT DEPLETED MY ENTIRE STOCK OF VITAMIN D), I decided to go for a seasonal theme.

lino kit

The first thing I did was find a great tutorial online, courtesy of Illustrator, Chris Madden. There were instructions in the box but they were pretty basic and I wanted to plan my project step-by-step and get a bit of inspiration.

The hardest part was actually coming up with an idea for the drawing. I was thinking Spring and I love anything botanical, but it took a while to settle on the tulips. I liked the idea that they were simple but also quite strong and graphic.

The first cut was quite intimidating! You’re meant to do some practice cuts on a spare bit of lino before you get started but as I’m naturally unbearably impatient, I just wanted to crack on and get started. The kit has a good range of tools, each with a slightly different effect and they were easy enough to use but, on the downside, it did take a flipping long time to get rid of the unwanted section – possibly getting on towards an hour (OMG do not even mention the washing that could’ve been done in that time or the fact that I could have vacuumed out the car – quick, change the subject back!). Clearly, these things are always going to be slow at first though. I imagine it gets a bit quicker and easier as you become used to using the tools and your confidence grows.

The most fun part, I found, was rolling out the gloopy black ink in the tray. Alright, so now you know how much of a big kid I am – I basically loved the kinda slurply, sticky sound it makes, a bit like smacking your lips when you’ve eaten something lovely. Don’t ask me why that appeals so much, but really, it is rather satisfying.

Transferring the image onto paper was only slightly tricky. It seemed to end up on the wonk each time – need to figure out how to rectify that – and each print came out slightly different to the rest, which is quite a pleasing aspect of this craft.

I’m fairly pleased with my first attempt. It’s not perfect and I’d really like to put the time into refining the next image so that it’s less chunky looking. That said, I’ve had a few lovely comments about my finished design, which makes me think I will definitely bother to do another lino cut project again soon (and get to enjoy that brilliant sticky-tacky sound).

So many people will be getting a tulip birthday card now…

I would definitely recommend you try this craft if you can as it’s relatively simple to get a very effective looking result and obviously you can keep the lino cut sheet for printing again in the future. I’ve used one print on a friend’s birthday card already (she loved it – or at least said she did…). Blimey, so many people will be getting a tulip birthday card now. At least while it’s still Spring – probably not going to get away with this the whole year round. I’ve mounted up another one in a box frame, which looks pretty striking. Not bad for £7. You can get this exact same kit for just over £20 in Ebay, which is good value actually compared to a lot of other arts and crafts.

What with the needle felting and the lino printing, it’s clear I need more time. I’m going to have to either start getting up really early to make time, give up binge watching The Walking Dead (not a realistic option), or leave my job and starve. Or maybe just learn to be much better at time management and be generally more disciplined on getting chores done, blogging and crafting at allocated times during the week. This doesn’t even take into account that I’ve taken up practising the guitar again (more on that when I’m feeling brave) or I’ve bought a bunch of acrylic art supplies or that I’m planning on going to a silver clay workshop soon…Oh man, can’t I just quit sleeping altogether and become some project-crazed Kirsty Allsopp-alike crafting lady?

From my point of view, I really do feel less unhinged since venturing into hobby land. There is certainly something to be said for putting credit into the emotional bank. I think my family may even like me slightly more of late, due to my being far less likely to snap their heads off at any given moment. They seem cross at not having clean socks readily available though. Clearly I CANNOT WIN on all fronts, something will always have to give. I just hope they don’t grind me down until I turn back into Super Sock-Washing Maniac Woman. Because, while she may be a domestic godsend, she is a bit of a horrible cow.

Until the next time, happy crafting, dreaming, creating, reading…whatever it is you do that fills your emotional tank.

*This is my dream. If I had to state one goal in life, it would be to appear as a zombie on The Walking Dead. Well, they do say dream big. I used to want to be an extra on Game of Thrones. That would still be cool but it’s been surpassed by the idea of getting stabbed in the head by Norman Reedus.
TWD yellow
I did tell you yellow did nothing for my complexion.

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