What is printmaking?

Picasso did it. Andy Warhol had a go. And Van Gogh was a master. So, what exactly is printmaking?

Printmaking is any art form that involves transferring an image from one surface to another. There are lots of types of printmaking – etching, screenprint, stencil printing, woodblock, digital printing, and more. Our favourite printmaking techniques are relief printing and etching:


Relief printing

Think of a block print as a homemade stamp. You take a material like wood, linoleum foam or even a potato. Next, carve away all the parts that you don’t want to touch the paper. So, you’re left with an image – like a stamp. Apply ink to your block and stamp it onto the paper. Famous artists like Vincent Van Gogh and James Whistler used woodblock printing to create beautiful prints with layered colours.




Etching (or engraving) is the opposite of block printing. You etch the image onto a smooth plate of metal (usually copper). Then apply the ink onto the whole image and wipe the plate down to remove any excess ink. This leaves the ink trapped in the grooves.

Next, put the plate onto a printing press, ink side up. Place slightly damp paper on top of the plate and roll it through the press. Because the paper is damp and lots of pressure is applied, it will pick up the ink from the lines in the image. The finished print is pulled from the plate. The “master plate” can then be used to print lots of images.

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Which does Inking Kombi use?

We mostly use relief printing but we love to experiment! Think of the Kombi parts as ready-made blocks. We apply ink to the parts and then roll or stamp them onto the paper. Sometimes, we turn the paper onto the parts and use a tool called a “barren” to rub the paper into the inky part. The brilliant thing about Kombi parts (and engine parts in general) is the really crazy prints they make. You never know what you’re going to get!


Want to learn how to do printmaking? Join our workshops! Contact us to find out more.



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