Carved Linoleum

Gina Livingston Murray creates print ink designs out of linoleum and powdered mica.

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Gina Livingston Murray originally began carving linoleum as a way to print ink designs on different types of paper. After doing this several times, she began to acquire quite a collection of carved linoleum. Most artists would typically throw these scraps away, but Gina wanted to come up with a way to recycle these pieces of linoleum and turn them into an art form of their own. So she decided to try brushing powdered mica on top of her inked linoleum while it was still damp from printing. The ink served as the perfect binder for the powder, and the results were gorgeous. Now she creates colorful textured carvings that remarkably resemble stained glass.

She starts by drawing a pattern, then she places a piece of graphite paper, dark side down, on top of a piece of unmounted linoleum. The pattern is placed on top of the graphite paper and taped down to secure it. Gina then goes over the entire pattern with a ballpoint pen or a pencil, so that the design is transferred onto the linoleum. After removing the pattern and the graphite paper, a design is revealed on the linoleum surface. Using a carving tool, she carves the linoleum, following the lines of her transferred design. Then she begins cutting with a tool called a Lino Cutter. Once her design is completely cut, it’s time to begin inking.

Gina mixes black and brown ink on an inking plate to create a rich dark brown, then she rolls a roller in ink and rolls the ink onto the carved linoleum, until the surface is covered. She places one piece of paper over the inked linoleum, then rubs the entire surface of the paper with a barren and carefully removes the paper to reveal the print. Gina repeats this as many times as is desired and allows the print to dry thoroughly. Then, using colored mica powder and a soft flat brush, she applies the powder to the linoleum while the ink is still damp. Once the linoleum is covered with mica powder, she defines her carved areas to create a nice outline of the design by dampening a small brush and running it into the grooves to reactivate and darken the ink. Her piece is finally ready to be framed.

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