‘ “Hope” is the thing with feathers’ is my latest three colour reduction linocut print. I made it without a press. It is hand burnished with a trusted wooden spoon. The lino print sold out within a week. It was a fundraiser. A buyer had to send me proof of a £30 donation to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) to help those suffering from the Turkey-Syria Earthquake. We raised £360.
The redwing is the national bird of Turkey and it sits on the branch of a Turkey Oak, the national tree of Turkey.
I’m very pleased with how this print looks! It is a beautiful redwing. Sorry I sold out. I hope you would please consider signing up to my newsletter for discounts in my shop and to be first in line for news on future prints.
Thanks so much to Alex Pope from the BBC for writing this lovely news article about Foster Hill Road cemetery and how it has inspired artists and authors (like the incredible Ruth Hogan– A Sunday Times best seller!). The story is peppered with illustrations from a book I worked on earlier this year about the cemetery (available from Eagle Book Shop in Bedford)
The Process of Creating This Green Woodpecker Print
I like to look at vintage nature books and prints for inspiration. Going to my local library, charity shop and using Pinterest are my favourite places for inspiration.
First, I do a drawing in pencil in my sketchbook, then I take a digital photograph of it and open it in a drawing app on my iPad to finesse the design and experiment with colours. My preferred app is Adobe fresco.
I print out the design in colour and transfer it to my piece of lino using carbon paper.
I carve and print my way through all the layers using the reduction printing method. I use intaglio printmaking inks. Ternes burton pins are used to keep a consistent registration. Here is how each layer in the reduction process gradually builds up to create the final image.
On some sections of the print I used a roller (or brayer) to cover the whole area of the design in ink. I also masked off selected areas using tracing paper. I used a little roller to add red ink on to specific places on the woodpecker’s head. I print using a wooden spoon.
This multicoloured handprinted relief print was made using one piece of lino. I can’t go back to print more. They are available now from my Etsy shop.
If you subscribe to my newsletter, you will receive a discount code to use in my Etsy shop. Just a little something to say thanks for your support x
This is my first finished reduction print of 2023. I printed the first peachy coloured layer on Christmas Eve 2022. It’s taken me many weeks to complete the print. I do linocut art around my day job and everyday life, snatching little pockets of time to print when I can. Printing isn’t a full time hobby.
Too Much Time Hanging On The Line
Have you experienced England in December? It is cold and wet. Ink will take longer to dry in these conditions. Dank humidity will mess with the shape of your paper, especially if you leave it hanging by a peg over Christmas. My paper warped, just by a millimetre or two, but enough for subsequent layers to print misaligned. Thanks a bunch, gravity!
Just Keep Going!
It was annoying. A lot of time goes into carving and printing by hand. In the future, if I know I won’t be able to print for a long time, I will store my paper flat in between glassine sheets. Don’t leave your half finished reduction prints hanging! I learned a lesson by making mistakes and this is something self taught practitioners have to be stoic about. I’m happy I can share what I have learnt with you.
You can’t fixing printing mistakes with reduction printing, so just keep going. I’m glad I did. The green woodpecker isn’t perfect but it is finally finished and I love the feel of this print. I mixed my own colours and I like the vintage traditional style. I hope you do too!
We had a fantastic meal at Foxy Wings last night! Look how excited I am in this pic! I finally got to see my illustrations on their new Christmas menu. Of course, the best thing was actually tasting it!
We had a posh pomegranate Bellini for starters (it is Christmas!), some sticky gochujang cauli, some Christmassy chilli cranberry cauli, takoyaki style cauli, winter greens and their famous famous foxy fries. What an absolute treat! Thanks so much to Gabs for looking after us!
Foxy is one of my favourite places in Bedford. If you’ve never been, you must try it!
Gabs, who owns the restaurant, saw one of my linocut prints on instagram and contacted me with a brief based on Hubert the Fox.
It was a great excuse to try something new. Usually I work in photoshop, but decided to test out the vector brushes in Fresco, a painting app by Adobe for iPad. It worked really well, I enjoyed not being tied to a desk whilst creating the illustration and I was able to do edits in photoshop as the files are saved in Adobe ‘s creative cloud. Swapping between the applications was very easy.
Hubert has gone from a traditional, conservative country fox to a hip urban fox with a cheeky look on his face!
Newsletters and email subscribers are useful ways for me to keep in contact with you, but signing up to things suck. Our inboxes are crammed with junk trying to sell us things we don’t need.
My newsletter will be more informative than just an ordinary marketing email. I’m going to write articles about artists I admire, arts events from my home town and include some behind the scenes stuff. There will be cheeky discount codes and exclusive offers for my subscribers too. Sound good? Sign up now!
As a sweetener, I’m running a competition too! Hopefully this will be enticing enough for you to become a subscriber. I’m doing a giveaway with nice prizes. Sign up to my email newsletter to win. Winners will be announced 12 December 2022.
I hate asking people to sign up to my mailing list, but Elon broke Twitter and Zucks bet the house on Meta. If instagram and Facebook go the same way as MySpace, how will I keep in touch with you all?
I occasionally get asked about the materials I use for my handprinted reduction prints. My favourite paper is Zerkall, made near the Rur River in Cologne, Germany. It’s heavy enough to take quite a few layers of colour and has a lovely delicate grain that gives my prints a dreamy vintage style that people tend to compliment on when they see my work in real life.
When I was contacted by intaglio printmakers to tell me that my favourite paper has been discontinued, I was so disappointed and worried! I have tried lots of paper brands, and zerkall was the perfect paper for me. How can I replace it? Now I have to go back to experimenting with new paper types (cue the sound of tiny violins).
I did a bit of digging online and I read that Papierfabrik Zerkall are no longer producing their gorgeous hand-made paper because the mill was heavily damaged by the massive flooding in July 2021. The flood put its paper machine out of operation. Areas of production, administration and storage were destroyed. The German government were willing to give some funding to rebuild the plant, but the owners decided that due to diminishing sales that they would close the mill permanently. Such a shame, as there has been a paper mill on that site since the 16th century.
It’s strange to think how a combination of market forces and global warming have contributed to the demise of my favourite paper. In the grand scheme of things it’s small compared to losing your livelihood, so I really shouldn’t complain.
If anyone has any suggestions for alternative papers I would love to know! I would love to hear from you
Katie Allen designed this glorious map of Bedford Indies to promote local businesses this Christmas. There’s even a little online section for those of us who aren’t bricks and mortar shops. Check it out! Thanks to Explore Bedford, Bedford Independent and The Arc for saving me a little space in the corner of this beautiful guide. My favourite part of the map is the cute detail of the pink swans wearing Santa hats gliding down the river!
I have just finished a three colour reduction linocut print of a handsome blackbird. I handprinted a dozen, which is half of four and twenty (just like the English folk song. However, I would never, ever bake a bird into a pie. I’m a vegetarian)
Apparently the ‘four calling birds’ in The Twelve Days of Christmas folk song, was originally sung as ‘four colly birds’. Colly, being a reference to coal, hence blackbirds!
So with Christmas coming up, maybe a limited edition print of an English colly bird would make quite the festive gift. Find the listing over at my Etsy shop or come and see me at the next Bedford Flea on Sunday 13 November.
I am very pleased with these new greeting cards. They are designs based on some of my most popular prints.
I have been a bit cautious to begin with and I’ve just decided to buy cards of three of my designs first, to see how well they sell.
I think they look gorgeous. At the local art market, customers and friends wanted to support me, but original prints can be too expensive. Purchasing something small like a token card is affordable.
Hopefully if a card is given away, the recipient will look up my shop and website. A sneaky bit of promotion! Greeting cards are exclusively available from me in person at the moment. Find me at on Sunday 13 November at Bedford Flea. It will be perfect for some quirky festive gifts and you’ll be supporting local artists and makers too.