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Inked up Ironbridge Lino plate ready to print.

How to print single colour lino’s on your Gunning Etching press

Hello its Jenny from Ironbridge Printmakers.

In this blog we discuss how to print your lino plates on a Gunning etching press. Above is a technical HOW TO MOVIE showing you how to set up to print Lino on a Gunning Etching Press. Or choose to follow along and read with me below…

We will be setting the pressure on the Gunning Etching Press using Runners and packing paper to enable us to kiss the paper to the plate. All our presses come with a set of 4mm runner’s which are brilliant to get you going we also offer other thicknesses should you need them.

Lino-Hessian-backed-3.2mm-thick-Ironbridge-255x300We are going to print a hessian backed 3.2mm thick lino which has not been – what we call registered’ which means stuck down to a piece of board using double sided tape – this is done when the plate has to be printed many times or if its a very large plate, then this prevents movement. Plates created from soft cut lino or Japanese vinyl are softer materials and have a tendency to squash in any press we would recommend choosing to use a hessian backed lino.

Registration Bed and Printing RunnersFirst thing to do is to Put your 4mm plastic runners into your press. Slide them through under your top roller so the lie flat along the edges of the bed and secure your runners down with the safety stops that came with your press. They make sure your runners do not move around the bed when you are printing. Your safety stops should go on the top side of the bed and on the top of the runners. The bolts are put through the holes and the wing nuts secured so that everything is tight and secure. (note – you have two different types of safety stops for your press – one set of two is these that we have just used and the other set are smaller because they sit on the underside of your press bed when printing intaglio – never use them together.

We use packing paper to make up the difference – no blankets just packing paper – we use bread and butter 270gsm from John purple papers in London.

Lino 3 1Drop the top roller down onto the runners – they should feel even both sides -go down until the tommy bars feel heavy and even, and then come back on yourself about half a turn and then test the feel of your pressure. It should be moderately easy to pull through – you want your rollers to run along the runners which are acting like rails.
When you pull your rollers over the sand-which you have created you will know if you have put to much packing paper on because it will feel to heavy and you feel if its to light and you have not got enough packing paper on.

If it IS to heavy to pull through once you go over the sandwich where the plate is on your bed, you will know that you have too much packing paper on (this will squash your plate to much) and if you hardly feel anything, then you have not got enough packing paper and your print will not be strong enough.
What you will want to feel is an increase of pressure when you go over the plate – sometimes you might have to have a big increase in pressure to get a perfect print – especially the first 4 ish prints – the plate needs running in to get it to print perfectly.

Relief runner
A note here about the runners – we have these cut from a plastic company and sometimes the thickness of one runner to the other one can be slightly different – it could be a fraction of a mm and you will feel it in the Tommy bars when setting the pressure – if this is the case then just set each tommy bar so they feel the same – this is called the talk – so the talk you can feel through your hands when turning the tommy bars.

To give you an idea for hessian backed lino with the 4mm runners you will need 3 or 4 sheets of packing paper.

If you are getting movement in the plate – and you might do if the plate is large or if its soft cut or if its Japanese ply – then you can do 2 things – you can double side your plate down to a board to stabilise it and you can use thicker runners which means more packing paper – this will stop the movement.

Lino 1 1A note for those who use hessian backed lino, If you have been cleaning your plates with any type of oil then you have probably ruined your plates as the hessian backed lino is actually made from linseed oil so when you clean your plate with oil it sucks the ink into the plate making it extremely easy to slip when printing. We recommend cleaning using the Zest it Printmakers cleaner. Simply put it in a spray bottle and wipe your plate clean with a rag. 

Three things can happen when you go over the sandwich on your press bed
1. you get a perfect print because you are using the correct height runners and the right amount of packing paper. number 2 your ink on your print looks squashed because you have added to much packing paper even though you are using the correct height of runners – this means you need less packing paper and 3 your print is to light which means you have not added enough packing paper. As long as your ink is the right consistency you will be able to get perfect prints by using the correct amount of packing paper.

We can’t wait to see your wonderful prints! If you have any questions please feel free to drop me an email, Jenny@Ironbridgefinearts.co.uk


Thank you for reading!

Happy Printmaking!

All the best,

Jenny & The Team!

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If you have read to the bottom of this blog you are entitled to a free gift, please email Jenny@IronbridgefineArts.co.uk with your preferred printing Relief or Intaglio to claim. Postage of £6.99 will still apply.