Image transfer to a lino block
This is a simple image transfer technique to get a photocopied or laserprinted black and white image to a lino block, ready to carve for printing. The printed image MUST be photocopied or laserprinted. NOT printed from an ink jet printer. Toner used in copiers and laser printers is fused to the surface of the paper as the paper passes through the machine, therefore keeping the toner on the surface of the paper. Whereas ink from inkjet printers is absorbed into the paper.
This method works by ‘gluing’ the toner printed image to the lino block and rubbing away the paper. If you use an ink jet print, you will rub the image away with the paper, as the ink image is absorbed into the paper.
If you are using a photocopied image, you may want to do a quick test first. The toner used in photocopiers (and laser printers) varies, and some will perform better than others.
I print my black and white images on a Brother A4 HL-2270DW series laserprinter. Its a solid and economical unit, and prints double-sided (although not useful for this application). I will admit that I haven’t tried this technique with a photocopy, but I know many people who have, and I know that it does work.
1. Laserprint your image
Print your image on a LASER printer. NOT an ink jet printer. Toner from laser printers is fused to the surface of the paper with heat. Ink from inkjet printers is however absorbed into the paper. It is the fact that the toner sits on the surface of the paper that allows the image to transfer to your printing block that is the magic of this process.
This method works by ‘gluing’ the toner printed image to the lino block and rubbing away the paper. If you use an ink jet print, you will rub the image away with the paper, as the ink image is absorbed into the paper when it is printed.
TIP: Remember to flip your image when you print it, so that when it is lino printed it prints the right way around. This is especially important if you have text or numbers in your image.
2. Prepare your plate and paper
Now you are ready to glue the image to the lino plate.
Apply a layer of acrylic gel medium to the lino plate and also the printed side of your laserprinted image. The medium doesn’t need to be applied thickly, but enough to cover the surface of both the lino block and paper completely, before sticking them together.
Lay the glue-prepared laserprint over the glue-prepared linoblock and gently press together.
Gently rub the paper surface to smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles.
Allow to dry for about 15-20 minutes before you start to reveal your transferred image, ready for carving.
3. Reveal your image
Once the medium has dried enough to bond the toner image to the block, its time to remove the paper.
Lightly dampen the paper – and begin to gently rub with your fingers to remove it. I use a spray bottle with water to lightly spray the paper, then rub with my fingers. You can use a cloth – but be gentle so as to not disturb the toner image sitting just below the surface of the paper. You will get a better end-result if you take your time while rubbing the paper. Simply damped the paper again if it is starting to dry as you rub it away.
Eventually, you will see the toner image reveal itself as the paper is rubbed away. Try to rub as much of the paper away that you can as it will make seeing your toner image easier as you carve your lino block.
4. Ready to carve
Once you have removed all paper and have a clear reveal of your toner image, you’re ready to start to carve your lino block.
Yep, its that simple!
5. Clean your block
The toner and acrylic medium will have left a residue on the surface of your lino block. Clean this off BEFORE you print. Having said that, you can experiment a little and see how your image prints up with the texture on the surface of the lino. You might be pleasantly surprised by the results.
I use acetone or turps to remove the acrylic medium.
If you have thin carved lines or detailed carved areas, be careful as you clean off the toner residue. Rubbing too hard could damage areas you have carved. Again, take your time doing this to protect the integrity of your carved image.
Bush Song is a 3 colour reductive linoprint I completed earlier this year. I used this method of image transfer to prepare my lino block for carving.