I had inky fingers for a reason other than calligraphy when I took part in a lino print workshop with Carrie Dennison, of Dendryad Art.
I heard about the event, at Keeper’s Cafe in Consett, via Facebook – and it was certainly worth the drive down winding country lanes in the rain and fog to get to!
The cafe itself is a huge supporter of local artists, with dozens of local and complementary national suppliers producing the wide range of stock it sells.
I’d bought something within five minutes of being in the shop – I really shouldn’t be let loose with my debit card in these sorts of places!
I managed to tear myself away from the beautiful displays before the start of the three-hour workshop, however.
Everything was set up ready for us and Carrie introduced us to the lino cutting tools we would be using, before allowing us to test them on some scrap lino blocks.
We started with some simple straight and wavy lines with the fine lino cutter and just like a calligraphy pen, you have to be conscious of the angle you’re holding it at so the cutter moves easily through the rubber-like lino block.
We then had to draw two hearts, one of each side of the block, cutting out the outline of one and the inside of the other, to demonstrate the different effects and start thinking about what to colour and what to leave white on the printed piece.
Co-ordinating the movement of the cutting tool and the lino block was quite a challenge at first, but I soon got the hang of out and found it quite satisfying as I tore off grated cheese-like strips from the block!
We then started to create our own design, assisted by Carrie’s print-outs based on the Christmas card theme of the workshop.
A rocking horse and a robin caught my eye and made me think of the Rockin’ Robin song by The Jackson 5, so that formed the basis of my card.
After tracing the outlines of the horse, robin and lettering, it was time to transfer the design on to an A6 lino block by turning the tracing paper over, placing it on the block and scribbling on the back – just like at school!
After a delicious coffee and cake break, it was time to cut the lino and there was silence as we concentrated on getting it right, with a couple of test prints highlighting areas we might have missed or that needed more work.
We used rollers to drag the ink down trays and spread it evenly over the lino block, either in one colour, or mixing inks to create a rainbow effect.
I had quite the production line going, as it’s my intention to use the prints to create Christmas cards for my calligraphy classmates after being wowed by their hand-made creations last year.
My friend and I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and Carrie was a fantastic teacher who has now challenged me to combine some lino printing with my calligraphy. Looks like I’ve got another excuse for a trip to an art store!