Reduction Printing

In my ideal world, I would use my hands daily to create something people would just love to have.  In the same vein as the craftsmen in the Arts and Crafts/Craftsman era.  But the things I would make by hand, pottery, printmaking or book binding are three things that I know little about.  I have done a little book binding and a little printmaking and pottery has yet to be explored.  My book binding skills are coming along, maybe someday I will say with confidence “I can bind books”, but I think it will be a while.  And my printmaking skills are close to nil.  I like to cut linoleum  blocks though and I am trying to teach myself how to print – reduction style.  Here is my first reduction print.


The print is exactly as I created it.  Once again, I so wanted to clean it up in photoshop.  I thought I would show you my source for the lady.  She is from a cabinet card of someone distantly related.  Can’t exactly tell you who they are, but these three ladies are beautiful, aren’t they?   I hope you can tell which of the three I used for my print.  I used the discoloration on the photo as a design feature. 



If you are unfamiliar with printmaking, a reduction print is a print using one plate.  You first remove the area on the block where there will be no ink and print your series with the lightest color.  Then, using the same block, remove more of the block and reprint the same sheets with the next value of color ink.  Do this as many times as you like using the darkest ink last.  I did 3 colors of ink.   When you are finished, the plate is trash; there is no way to go back and use it again for the same print.  I aligned the prints by sight, but there must be an easier way I don’t know about.  I haven’t found too many books with printing techniques.  Anyone know of any great books out there?

This is another lino block print I did last night.  This is just printed in black ink, the color comes from transparent acrylic paint.  Easier to do, puts no strain on your brain trying to figure out what to do next.


If you like block printing visit the web page of Stephen Alcorn.  His work is unbelievable.


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9 Responses to “Reduction Printing”

  1. tommye scanlin Says:

    Love what you’re showing! I absolutely love printmaking and would, in another life, will be (or am) a printmaker. Also a potter (but that’s another story….)

  2. tommye scanlin Says:

    …and this, too, would be a fantastic tapestry design!

  3. Jennifer Says:

    Tommye beat me to it – my very first thought was “What a great tapestry design!” In fact the technique could be a great way to design a tapestry. Hmmm, I’m going to have to give this some thought! Stephen Alcorns are beautiful pieces with great detail – but I really like the clean lines of yours. I look forward to seeing more of them!

  4. Dale Says:

    Beautiful work – once again! In this day of mass production and printing, reduction printing seems to be such a lot of work for only one print – but it certainly guarantees every one is an original! I guess you could make multiple prints before reducing to the next step, but you wouldn’t really know what your final image was going to look like until the last reduction was printed.

    Remember the pin-registration system we used to use in the old days of drafting? Might give you an idea of a way to register so you don’t have to eyeball it. I’ve seen block printers build a frame that the block fits into so everything lines up.

  5. laurenfinley Says:

    Tommye and Jennifer, I have my loom warped!

    Dale, I actually printed 10, that was the best of 10. I guess you would make edition of whatever you liked. I have a long way to go.

    Thanks for your encouragement.

  6. Donata Says:

    Hi Lauri.I love the way you incorporated the discolourment of the photograph into the print; it makes it much more interesting and exciting.The way I used to align printblock and paper, is simply use tape to note the 4 corners of the block and note the 2 points where i start with putting down the paper.If I do a lot of printing, I tape an old but quite thick ruler to the excact point where i want my paper to lie.It ofcourse depends a lot on how you print it;block under or block on top, and if you hand print with a brayer, or if you print with a press,but with old fashioned crepe tape you can work miracles..

  7. lisa mertins Says:

    laura! your reduction lady is perfect! don’t you dare digitally enhance her 🙂 i too am a beginning printmaking student. have you found that you begin, you become bewitched by it? that’s what’s happened to me. so exciting to find another printmaking newbie!!!

  8. lisa mertins Says:

    AAAACK lauren, i’m sorry i called you laura! i guess that reduction print just got me so excited…and lauren is my bestie’s name. what a dingdong i can be :/

  9. Second Take « Lauren Finley's Blog Says:

    […] By laurenfinley My reduction print turned into a tapestry.    I stuggled with keeping the warp vertical.  I think I have the warp […]

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