Using Different Tools to Make Marks on Lino

There are a large variety of different lino cutting tools with different shapes and sizes. The most common lino tools are V Tools and U Tools.

U Tools carve softer lines with a curved end point and an even width but it can be harder to get control over the placement of your edges.

V Tools can give a variety of line widths with the same tool, are good for accurate edges and corners. Lines cut with V tools will have sharp pointed ends. 

Carving lino is not limited to carving lines around a drawing. A wide variety of marks can be achieved, creating interesting designs when printed that
are characteristic of the lino cutting process. 

We’ve had a go at mark making on lino to give an idea of some of the different marks that can be made. We’ve used traditional, grey, hessian backed lino – on other lino and vinyls the marks will vary as the materials behave differently. We’ve
used Pfeil Tools as well as the
Japanese Cutting Tools for Wood and Lino

Above you can see 24 different marks made using these tools on lino. The lino has been inked up so we can see the marks more clearly. Here’s how they were
all made:

1. Straight cuts made using Pfeil V Tools – 12/1 and 15/2. 

V Tools carve deep lines with pointed ends where the tool has been dug into and pushed out of the lino. 


2. Pfeil U Tools – 11/1, 11/3, 11/2 and 9/5

U Tools carve lines that are uniform in width and have rounded ends. You can clearly see the marks made by each different tool by its line width.


3. Clearing using large Japanese U tool

U tools are good for clearing as they create more even, flatter areas with less troughs and peaks that can pick up ink.


4. Pfeil 9/5 U Tool with snap off

On traditional grey lino you can create edges by flicking the tool upwards to snap off the piece of lino.


5. Pfeil 15/2 V Tool

V Tools can create lines that vary in width with tapered ends. 


6.  Circles with Japanese U Tool

 Create circles by rotating the lino as the tool stays still.


7. Japanese V Tool with snap off

You can also use the V tool to create sharp edges by snapping off pieces of lino. These shapes have a more pointed end because a V Tool was used. 


8. Japanese V Tool corners

Neat corners and arrow shapes can be made by using two cuts of the V Tool.


9. Cutting up to an edge with Japanese V Tool

You can use the snap off technique to cut up to a line before neatening the edge. 


10. Cross hatching with Pfeil 12/1 V Tool

The Pfeil 12/1 is a tiny V tool that can be used to carve delicate lines. The cross hatching can be used for creating tone or texture.


11. Japanese Hangito Tool at an angle

The Japanese Hangito tool looks a little like a scalpel. It is more commonly used in Japanese Woodblock Printing but can be used in lino cutting to achieve
sharp edges. Hold the tool at an angle and cut one side and then the other to create a V tool-like gouge mark. 



12. Moving the lino to curve with Japanese U Tool 

This mark was made by holding a U Tool straight whilst the lino is wobbled from side to side. 


13. Japanese Chisel in a square to get sharp edges

Like the Hangito Tool, the chisel in the set of Japanese Tools is more commonly used for Japanese Woodblock Printing. You can, however, experiment with
this tool on your lino – try pushing the tool straight down firmly to create sharp edges and skimming off the surface.


14. Tiny marks with Japanese V Tool

Random, delicate marks in the same direction can create texture or pattern. The V Tools will give you tiny lines. 


15. Small dots with Pfeil 11/2 U Tool

The same technique can be used with a U Tool to give small dots. 


16. Shallow dot texture with Pfeil 9/5 U Tool

Using a slightly larger U tool and making your marks closer together can create interesting patterns from the raised lino left behind. 


17. Circles with Japanese U Tool

Similarly to creating circles by rotating the lino, larger open circles can be made using the same twisting lino technique. 


18. Leaving a positive line with Japanese U Tool

Because of their even line width, U tools can be useful when leaving delicate positive lino lines raised. 


19. Japanese U Tool snap off up to a line

Use the U Tool to carve up to a positive carved line. 


20. Japanese V Tool snap off to a line

V Tools can be used in the same way, when using snap off up to a carved line. Different depths of V Tool will give different shaped Vs.


21. Japanese U Tool spirals

The even line widths achieved by using U Tools are perfect for carving concentric lines and even shapes with control.


22. Wiggling line made by rocking Japanese V Tool from side to side

Hold your V Tool straight and wiggle the lino from side to side to create a jagged line.


23. Pfeil 12/1 V Tool

The Pfeil 12/1 V Tool is perfect for very fine, controlled lines. 


24. Cleaning around a positive shape with Japanese U Tools

The edge of this rectangle was carved with a Japanese small U Tool. The background was then cleared using the Japanese large U Tool.

These are just some of the marks that can be achieved using your tools. Experiment with your own to see what you can make! 

Meet the Maker: Kathy Hutton

Hi, my names Kathy Hutton, I’m a printmaker working out of my home studio in Wiltshire where I live with my husband and 3 girls.

In my work I combine many different printmaking techniques to produce my original one of a kind prints and I also run small group workshops teaching some of these techniques at my studio and for other venues in the South.

How & Where did you learn to print?

I studied Printed Textiles at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee many years ago with Printmaking as a support subject. This gave me a great grounding
in Silk screen printing but also a passion for all methods of hand printing.

When I graduated I went on to work freelance in Surface pattern design for Habitat, Heals and The Conran shop and later moved into a buying and product
development career, but I kept the printmaking up as a hobby in the evenings, always knowing it was something that I wanted to do more with in the

Why Printmaking?

As a child I visited a local Art Gallery in Liverpool with my family and can remember trying silk screen printing for the first time; I was instantly hooked.
A few years later, my dad made me a basic mesh screen and we bought some fabric inks. Using stencils and hot wax I fashioned some simple designs. This
‘heath robinson’ DIY approach to printing has stayed with me and influences how I print in my home studio without much expensive equipment.

Where do you work?

I’m really lucky to have a fairly large studio space at my home. The previous owners built an extension designed as a summer room, It links to the house
but also feels a bit out on a limb, so actually it’s perfect. I’m still physically in the house which is important while my girls are so young, but
it feels very separate and the children don’t keep popping in!

The room as large windows on 3 sides, but doesn’t get much direct sunlight, making it ideal for working and teaching my workshops in.

Describe a typical day in the studio?

A typical day is tricky to pin down as my youngest daughter is still at home, so I currently only have 2 short school days without her around to work in.
Because of this, these days are pretty much reserved for a quick trip outside and studio time. My day would always start with tea, in fact many cups
of tea punctuate my day. Any orders that have come in will be packaged up, ready to go to the post office later.

I’ll try to get most of my printing done in the daytime so that I can check how the colours are looking against each other in natural light. A lot of drying
time needs to be factored in to printing as you want each colour to dry completely before layering down the next one; often I’ll have 2 or 3 different
prints on the go or I’ll use the in between time to plan and sketch out ideas. Having said that I’m not a great planner, I naturally seem to work more
intuitively, changing things as I go along. As each layer goes down I might get a feel that the print is shifting in another direction. I use coloured
pencils to help me work out my options as I’m going along and try to mix my inks to match.

I try to keep admin jobs and preparation such as cutting papers and stencils for the evenings when the kids have gone to bed. I’ll also try and do some
sketching in the evenings too as this really helps clarify ideas.

What inspires you?

Being out in the countryside is my main source of inspiration. I try to get out every day, I’ll often walk the short distance cross country to the post
office and combine the trip with a forage for plants that might inspire a new print. Being out in the open is normally when an idea will spark, often
from something that I may have passed or seen a thousand times. It could be the last leaf clinging to a branch, the formation of a seed head, a berry
or seed on the path in front of me; but on that particular day I see it in a different light and suddenly I know what to do, its like two thoughts
collide – right place, right time. I’m constantly picking up little nature treasures and stuffing them in my pockets, I’ve quite a collection now. 

Walking or running outside also gives me some much needed thinking space that helps to bring ideas that might have been bubbling away under the packed
lunches and laundry up to the surface to breath and sort themselves out! I always come back home feeling like my ideas have gained a bit of clarity
or direction.

Favourite printmaking product? 

As I use many different techniques, there are lots of products that I love, but if I had to choose just one it would be a tube of Caligo Safe Wash Black Ink

It’s the ink that I use for my mono-printed line work which forms part of almost every print I create and which has become my signature style. I love its
texture, consistency, its intense blackness and I even love the smell of it as I open the tube! It also helps that it cleans away with water or a wet
wipe even if I’ve been naughty and have left it out to dry for a day or two! 

Drawing with a mono-print line is where I feel most connected to my work. There’s a sense of freedom and spontaneity that comes with the fact that I’m
not in complete control of the marks that will be made. It’s this very loss of control that gives me the confidence to draw.


What have you made that your most proud of? 

The project that I’m most proud of is one that I did for a primary school a few years back. The school commissioned 4 prints to represent the school houses
named after the 4 villages that closed to create the current school. I worked with the children who made their own line drawings of the villages and
I used these drawings to create 4 large prints in the house colours.

Where can we see your work?

I sell online through my Etsy shop KathyHuttonPrints where I have one off prints and small runs of original prints. I also have a small online shop selling my botanical prints and sell my work and teach workshops at Nineteen, an artisan
boutique in Clevedon, Bristol.

What can we be seeing from you next?

I’m excited to be working on some new drawings that are already sparking ideas for a new series of prints which I hope to have ready this spring.

Do you have any advice for other printmakers?

For anyone just starting out, I’d say to be a little bit brave, start showing your work & put it out there. The creative community is incredibly supportive
and can offer so much advice and networking opportunities. Take things one small step at a time and keep believing in yourself.

Find more of Kathy Hutton’s work: 







Trip to Creativeworld in Frankfurt

Every year Shirley visits Creativeworld in Frankfurt to meet with manufacturers and suppliers and to see new creative products from around the world. This
year it was a group trip as Holly joined Shirley at the glorious hour of 3.30am last Sunday morning to begin our journey! 

Creativeworld is the world’s largest trade fair for art supplies so there was a lot to take in. Here are a few snapshots of the things we saw that inspired
us this year: