A go to guide for my preferred tools and materials
Printmaking materials can be a bit of a minefield as there is so much choice and often its difficult to know what is best for you. This can often mean a lot of trial and error so I am going to list the materials that I use and love. These are by no means right for everyone as your choices will vary depending on your style.
I would like to note that I am not sponsored by any of the following brands that I have linked below. As I am UK based, the shops I recommend are based in England however I know a lot of these materials are avaliable internationally through shops like Blick Art Supplies and Gerstaecker.
One of questions I get asked most about is which tools I use. I have used every tool under the sun and what I found is that its not about the tools your use its about how you use them. Keeping your tools sharp is the most important thing and if you dont do this properly, it really doesn't matter how much you spent on your nice new tools if they are completely blunt. I use a wooden slip strop and polishing compound from flexcut to keeps my tools really sharp.
My go to tools are my Flexcut Micro Palm set and I also have a few wider Pfeil tools for carving out larger areas. Give yourself a combination of V shape and U shaped tools with at least one very small V shaped tool for detail.
You buy Flexcut micro tools here...
You can buy Pfeil Tools here...
You can buy a Wooden Slip Strop here...
I only really use two types of Linoleum as I find these work best for my style and can accommodate the fine detail I often try to carve in my work.
For most of my work I use traditional battleship grey linoleum. It surface is hard and robust so can be ran through the press multiple times without breaking down. Its also quite cheap to buy and often comes in multiple packs.
You can buy Grey Linoleum here...
I also often use Speedballs speedy carve rubber blocks for smaller blocks and stamps. (pink stuff featured in photo) Its really fun and carves like butter for quick and easy designs.
You can buy speedy carve here...
In the studio I use a wide variety of roller but you dont need many to set up your own printmaking practice. I would recommend buying at least two rollers in a couple different sizes to cover multiple blocks. There are so many to choose from so Ill give you a quick run down of which rollers I use for what.
super cheap and softer than their basic red rollers, great for beginners using smaller lino blocks and wanting and economical roller.
Probably the best value for money rollers Ive found, I have the 150mm and the 200mm. Good coverage for detail and very easy to clean. Slightly hard so best for traditional lino.
A fantastic all rounder for beginners! Very soft and durable this is my go to roller when I am printing from home! I have the 6inch and 4inch and they are great for both traditional Lino and speedy carve. I just wish they made them in larger sizes!
These are the crème de la crème of rollers. I am lucky enough to have these beautiful rollers in my studio at college in 20cm and 25cm. These are my go to rollers for anything larger than A4 size. They have amazing coverage and the durathene roller means are super durable. These will last you a lifetime as you can also change out the rollers for new ones.
There is no rule to say what type of paper you should print on. When I first started printing I was told you should only use "printmaking paper" that was specifically designed to be soaked and printed with a smooth surface. However I now have realised this is not the case. I absolutely love printing on textured handmade paper and one of the things I get complimented on the most is my paper choices. I use a variety of different kinds and I try to make sure that all the paper I use is sustainably made.
Nepalese Natural Lokta Paper - 90gsm
Beautiful and natural, this paper is my go to. It looks stunning with with my favourite colours of black, petrol blue and aubergine. Lokta is a sustainable and renewable resource. Plants are cropped above ground level and can be reharvested after 3-4 years.
Black Nepalese Lokta Paper -50gsm
Slightly thinner than the natural but still very sturdy. Black lokta paper is incredible when printed with a bronze gold or silver metallics ink.
A fantastic textured paper with tons of character. They have loads of different sizes but I use the A5 paper pack to print my very popular smaller prints. Great value for money and also available in light grey and dark grey
I get a lot of people asking me how I get such a perfect deckle (ripped edge) on my paper and to be honest its a massive cheat! I use a deckle edge ripper from Intaglio Printmaker! Makes it so much easier than wetting the paper etc.
My current go to inks. They are so lovely to print with and can be cleaned up with soap and water. I have used these inks for over a year now and there is no going back! I have every colour they stock and have now just seen that they have released a new range of Print Posse Inks in stunning new colours!
You simply cannot understand the beauty of these inks until you see them for yourself. I absolutly love cranfields range of metallics, they are literally magic in a tube. I have used Gold, Silver and Copper and I honestly couldnt decide which was my favourite as they are all gorgeous.
These inks are oil based so therefore have to be cleaned up with vegetable oil. I try not to use harsh chemicals for the clean up as without proper extraction can be really hazardous to breath in.
When I first started printmaking I used only a baren. While these are fantastic for smaller print editions it can tire you out very quickly if you are printing a larger print. Barens are really great for a home studio set up with limited space and they come in all shapes and sizes. You can buy wooden, glass and even Japanese paper barens for burnishing your prints.
The Baren I still use is the speedball baren. It's smooth and get be easily washed when dirty. I still use this baren for smaller prints and stamps even though I now have a press as i feel i can get a more precise impression on the paper.
This is a very recent addition to my home and its already made my life so much easier. I spent a really long time deciding which press to order as I have very limited space in my flat, however as most of my prints are A3 size it needed to accommodate this. I couldn't be happier with my Etching press from Hawthorn Printmaker. It is incredibly smooth and prints beautifully. I currently use it with a set of lino runners for the best finish.