Thursday, March 5, 2015

Carve Your Own Style

Using commercial stamps is great for certain jobs, but they’re limiting and you don’t get much opportunity to express your own style of art through them. It’s also quite boring to just stamp and cut the same designs over and over, and as they’re readily available, it’s common to see the designs used in different artists work. If you want to create something that is entirely your own, lino cutting is a great technique.

I got myself a lino cutting kit a while ago and wrote about making tiny signature stamps to mark your work here. It’s taken a while to get around to it, but I’ve finally had a proper go at making some larger designs and trying them out in porcelain. 

I’m exploring more illustrative styles on my beads at the moment and making stamps from lino is a great way to get a line drawn style with the option of consistent reproductions.

The tools needed are minimal. A piece of lino, I’ve used the soft cut type which is really easy to use (with less chance of stabbing yourself with the tool) and a lino cutting tool. 

I got this really neat tool and baren set. The baren is the base of the tool and is used for burnishing paper on to the lino cut during printing. The handle unscrews and with a collet, turns in to the cutting tool.  Although I don't print with paper, I love the way all of the tools are stored inside the handle, and for five pounds, it’s a bargain!

Start by sketching your image on to the lino. I’ve drawn a stylised tree.

Then put together the cutting tool and carve out the pencil lines. It's easier to keep the sheet of lino whole while you carve, then trim the stamp out afterwards. A larger area means you have more to hold on to and lets you keep your hands well away from the blade. Keep an even pressure. Tilting the blade of the cutter alters the cutting depth so if you keep it nice and even through your cut, you will end up with a level line when you come to stamp. 

I decided while cutting not to go around the edge so that when I trimmed the shape, I wouldn’t have to worry about the outside line.

When you’ve finished, lay the stamp face down on your clay and roll over it with an even pressure.

This imprint looks really neat, but you can always rework the stamp if you’re not happy with it!

Here I’ve trimmed out some different shapes and designs from other stamps.

And some tiny ones for headpins.

Everything was glazed…

And fired…

I really like how these turned out, and I love how the glaze breaks over the lines of the image. The only down side is now I need more glaze colours!!!


  1. What is lino and where might you buy it? Thank you! Love your beads...

    1. Thanks Robin! If you goggle soft cut lino, you should get plenty of options for where you can buy it. I got mine from an arts and crafts supply shop.

  2. Love this - going to do it very soon! And ensure mine look nothing like yours, obvs - well, obvs, yours are going to be better!

  3. Downside? More glaze colors? Ha ha. Anyway, that's a great technique--love how the lines stand out. I also really like that you're producing more shapes than just round ones.

  4. They are lovely Caroline. I must look out for the soft lino, I cut myself last time trying to gouge out lines on the firm stuff

  5. Lovely spring designs...great headpins.

  6. Thank you for showing us this really unique technique! I love how all of your pieces turned out! Simple designs make the most stunning've nailed it!

  7. Wow! Your artistic ability is astounding!

  8. A great blog, thank you for sharing your ideas. I love the headpins at the end.

  9. Thanks all, and do share on the AJE page if you have a go at this!

  10. I love what you did with all these beautiful beads. I have everything I need to try this but just never find the time. I tend to grab my scratch foam which I love but it gives a different look so I really have to try carving!

  11. YES. Love them. Have it all, need to make the time!

  12. Fantastic designs! Thanks for sharing. Love those headpins. Just darling!


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