I’ve put this together so you can order almost everything from one source (Blick Art) that offers free shipping. I’ve included explanations and options for folks who are interested. If you don’t feel like getting in deep, just go ahead and order the bolded options.
** On Dickblick.com: look for the day's discount code for a discount and free shipping. **
You’re welcome to choose larger pieces instead of 4 x 6, but if you’re starting out I recommend this size for ease of printing and a good learning curve. If you’re an experienced linocutter and plan to work larger, bear in mind that hand-rubbing prints is considerably more work than using a press, and consider a modest size (8 x 10). In past years I’ve had serious issues with the quality of linoleum from Blick, but it has improved (and the other option, McClain's, was closed last time I checked).
This is a very affordable carving tool, and the one I’ve used to create all of my prints. It can be ornery when switching nibs, so if you plan to do a lot of carving, I recommend buying 4 sets and keeping a different nib in each (but one set is enough for this class). There are many higher-quality and higher-priced options. If you’re interested in them, you’ll want to get a small and a larger V tool, and a small and larger U tool. Expect to pay $130 and up. Consider Pfeil tools, from woodcraft.com. Here’s an excellent guide to the Pfeil options:
This is a good-quality oil-based ink that stays “loose” so you can take your time printing, becomes permanent when dry, and washes up with soap and water. I recommend you go with any dark color (not, for example, yellow) so you get satisfying contrast when you print -- just be sure to get the Caligo Safewash RELIEF Ink (not etching ink). If you prefer black but the above size is sold out, try the 250 gm size ($22). If you want to be able to mix your own colors, I recommend purchasing Process Blue (Cyan), Process Red (Magenta), and Process Yellow, along with Black and the Transparent Extender: these will allow you to achieve a wide range of colors.
4. Please order ONE of the THREE options below:
Choosing a brayer was the most difficult call for me, so after considerable agonizing, I’m offering you options.
I recommend the first option, the EAC Soft Rubber Brayer (A), which requires a call/visit to another website. I don't usually recommend the second option the Speedball brayer (B): the quality is modest and they tend to warp over time, but if you’re just starting out, they’ll get you there. The third option (C), for those already devoted to linocut who know they'll be doing a lot of printing from home in the future, will last you many years but it is an investment.
I have not used these but they’re recommended by my favorite source. Shipping time is 4-5 days, shipping costs will add about $5, phone may be easier than their website, just do it early in the day (Chicago): 800-465-7382.
For setting out your ink.
Feel free to substitute any other color for white, or to mix colors! You can print on other kinds of paper, including plain old office paper, but this will give you better quality prints and printing will be much easier (this paper can be dampened, which makes it “hug” the plate so slipping is less likely). Each sheet will enable you to print up to 16 4x6 prints.
This is for transferring your image. If you are comfortable drawing, you can skip it! (If Kingart Transfer Paper is sold out, you can order Richeson Transfer Paper).
You can skip this item if you have a piece of glass to use, 16 x 20 or larger. This is for rolling out ink.
Glass is ideal, tempered glass is safest, but regular picture glass (do you have any 16 x 20 framed pictures around?) will work if you put duct or masking tape around the edges for safety.
IF you have a printer, or are comfortable drawing, you can skip this! This is the best workaround I can come up with for folks who don’t have a printer and who want to copy images from their computer or the web: if you size them right and tape this translucent paper to the screen, you will be able to trace onto this paper, and then transfer from this paper to your linoleum using carbon paper.
10. Wooden Spoon (you probably already have!)
For smaller prints, a wooden spoon is my favorite tool for hand-printing, so you don’t need to buy a baren. However, If you plan to work much larger than 4x6 or 5x7, I recommend this baren. Also, if you have any hand issues with gripping, a baren will be more ergonomic.
Miscellaneous things you probably already have and will need:
Wooden Spoon (essential – for printing!)
Tape (masking tape ideal, other will do)
About a dozen sheets of white office or other clean paper
Newspaper or an old tablecloth or sheet to cover your work area to prevent staining
Liquid soap (hand soap, dish soap, or liquid laundry detergent) for cleanup
Nail brush, old kitchen brush, kitchen scrubby, or something else grubby/scrubby, for cleanup
Rags, newspapers, paper towels etc., for cleanup (clean out your tshirt drawer!)
Clean spray bottle (for moistening paper): a used one from eyeglass cleaner or windex will do!
One toothbrush (old and used is fine)
Optional but highly recommended: Heating Pad: softens lino, helps a lot with carving (just the sore-muscle kind of heating pad you can get from a drugstore)
Optional: one black and one white watercolor pencil. These are useful as you are working out the black/white contrast of a linocut image. Watercolor is easily removed without leaving a residue that may interfere with ink.