Meet the maker: Kate Watkins
Welcome to the Cosy Craft Club's lino printing month! We really want to encourage you to have a go at lino printing yourself, and we'll be sharing the key things you need to know to get started. You can find all our lino printing posts in one place here.
Kate Watkins is the woman behind our Love to Print lino printing kits - this month’s Cosy Craft Club subscription kit. These kits have been so thoughtfully put together with everything you need to have a go at lino printing for yourself. Let’s get to know Kate a little!
Would you like to introduce yourself?
Hi, I’m Kate. I'm an artist and printmaker based in Hampshire, UK and produce limited edition original prints and cards. I have a fascination for all things print so vary the techniques I use to suit the subject matter. My proudest art achievement was being selected for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition some years ago, hopefully it won't be the last time.
How did you get into lino printing?
After my Fine Art degree I became a photography teacher. I started focusing on printmaking in my own time for relaxation and to develop my art practice separate from my day job.
What do you enjoy about it?
I enjoy the meditative quality of cutting, it can be frustrating but once you get into the rhythm it can be very calming and because it doesn’t involve lots of equipment it’s quite portable.
What kind of things can you use lino printing for?
Lino printing is really versatile, it has lots of different applications. You can create original prints, handmade cards, textiles using fabric inks and I’ve also added simple lino prints to wooden decorations combined with foiling. I’ve also seen some great examples of lino blocks being used to indent clay tiles.
Where do you like to go for lino printing inspiration?
There is a very active Facebook group called Linocut friends which is a great resource. People post everything from their first attempts to large scale professional pieces. It’s a real inspiration and the group members are knowledgeable and happy to share their expertise.
Pinterest is also a goldmine for both finished artworks and tutorials.
What materials and tools do you need to get started in lino printing and what do you need to look out for?
To begin with a couple of basic cutters with a u and v gouge to produce different types of marks, a lino or vinyl block, a roller, a spoon for hand burnishing, ink and paper. You can always upgrade as you learn more. It also helps to have tracing paper for reversing designs and a non slip mat to help hold the block still when cutting.
What are your top tips for someone who is starting to learn lino printing?
Use a test piece to try and make lots of different types of marks with the cutters first before planning a design. Also sketch ideas before moving on to cutting, bold graphic shapes are easier to cut to begin with so nothing too intricate, cutting technique and accuracy comes with practice.
What is the most common mistake you see people who are starting out with lino printing?
Probably either rolling out ink; it shouldn’t be too thick as this can sit into fine cuts on the lino and you won’t get a crisp image. Also choosing paper which is too thick when printing by hand, this can make getting bold clear prints difficult, my advice would be to choose a thin smooth paper made for hand printing.
If someone tried lino printing and quite enjoyed it, what would you recommend as the next steps for them?
Look in the library or invest in a good book on lino printing. Nick Morley who goes by the name Linocut Boy has a great book on this subject. Also, if you can, sign up to a course where you have access to a printing press. Many artists print exclusively by hand but if you have the chance to use a press to produce prints it’s a different experience and makes it much easier, and you can begin exploring reduction or multi-plate prints.
Why do you love to craft?
Art has always been a preoccupation of mine since childhood. I can’t imagine not having a creative project on the go and I find it both calming and challenging at the same time. There are lots of different stages that go into printmaking which involve problem solving, from first ideas, plate creation and final printing. Overcoming the challenges with printmaking can make the final work more satisfying
Thanks so much for Kate for sharing her lino printing knowledge with us, and I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting her! You can see more of her work by visiting her website at www.katewatkins.co.uk.