Linocut got its name from linoleum material. Linoleum as a material for engraving originated in Europe, and at the beginning of the first decade of the 20th century in Russia. The first Russian artist to use linocut N.I. Sheverdyaev, and in this technique was a great success. Among those Russian artists who seriously took up linoleum and studied its technology was I.N. Pavlov. In his prints, he exhaustively showed the tonal and textural capabilities of a new material for that time. The artist V.D. did a lot for the development of linocut Falileev. In his hand-printed engravings, he showed new uses for opaque oil paints, achieving remarkable effects that leave a great impression.
Engraving on linoleum was done by such artists as B.M. Kustodiev, M.V. Matorin, P.N. Staronosov, I.A. Sokolov, V.A. Favorsky, N.I. Piskarev and many others. The heyday of Russian linocut falls on the 50-60 years of the XX century. The great contribution to the development of linocut was made by the artists I.V. Golitsin, G.F. Zakharov, A.V. Borodin.
For engraving, linoleum with a thickness of 5 – 2.5 mm is used. Cut off a piece of linoleum on a roll, you need to warm it up slightly, and then hold it for 24 hours under pressure. Then carefully inspect it from the back. If nodules appear on the fabric, they must be cut with a knife. For carving, linoleum is polished with sea pumice with water to a mirror surface. You can use manual grinders or use an emery cloth of various grain sizes. It is necessary to grind linoleum evenly over the entire plane by linear or circular motions. With high-quality grinding of linoleum, paint is well rolled on it. This gives the quality of the strokes when engraving. The polished wet piece of linoleum is again placed under the press. If you leave it to dry in a free state, it will warp and it will be difficult to work on it. Linoleum dried under a press is checked for grinding quality, and then it is wiped with a dry surface with chalk or tooth powder, which immediately shows scratches and irregularities.
The main tools for working on linoleum are cutters. The base of the incisors has the form of a triangle and a semicircle. Angular incisors are basic, they come in different angles of 90, 45, 30, 15 degrees. The corner cutter is made of high-quality steel, has a sharp angle and gives a thin and clean line with no nicks. Semicircular incisors are of different widths – from 8 -2 mm. Narrow semicircular incisors are used to obtain various lines, textures and tones, and wide semicircular for selecting large white spots. The tool should be sharp, only its ends are sharpened. Semicircular cutters grind, turning them around the main axis at an angle of 30-45 degrees. Sharpening is carried out on a bar lubricated with machine oil with the addition of kerosene or turpentine to protect against contamination. Final finishing is done on corundum bars. The cutter must be held in a fist, stretching the index finger forward. During operation with the cutter, the left hand should be kept below the right to avoid a cut in case of unexpected breakdown of the cutter. With a slight movement, the cutter is pushed forward, and the thumb rests on the linoleum. When engraving the circles of wavy lines, they do not turn the styli, but linoleum to meet the cutter. To learn how to own a tool and freely draw any lines, you should practice on linoleum and identify the capabilities of each tool. On pure linoleum, try to cut through many lines at the same distance from each other. Cut thin lines with different incisors, following in parallel and slightly wider, and so on. Cut into many thin and thick wavy and straight intersecting lines. I also advise you to draw a circle with a pencil for training and cut circular lines to the center with a cutter. You can copy interesting engravings by different artists, which will allow you to acquire and master the technical skills of engraving. A sketch of the landscape, still life or bookplate that you want to cut on linoleum is created with pencil on paper. Here you need to find a graphical solution using the possibility of linear and cross hatching, the relationship of black and white spots.
When translating a picture, one should not forget that the image must be inverse. Polished linoleum is covered with a thin layer of white gouache or tempera. The prepared drawing is transferred to a transparent tracing paper. We put a black carbon copy on linoleum, then tracing paper with a reverse image and a pencil, we translate the drawing. You can still rub the prepared plane of linoleum with wax and rub it with a woolen cloth. Tracing paper with a pattern is rubbed with a bone. The translated drawing is drawn in black ink using a brush and pen. When carving on linoleum, it is not necessary to repeat the prepared pattern. The cut lines are very expressive and give the engraving a special artistic charm.