Printmaking Tip: Restoring old lino blocks
Recently I was approached by a client to restore a set of old lino blocks which she created almost 20 years ago. The lino had been sitting in water in the boot of a car (life in the tropics) where they had been exposed to extreme conditions. They were soaked through, cracked and in very bad condition on arrival to my studio.
When the blocks dried out they were brittle, warped, and cracked. Some of the cracks were on the surface and others were all the way through to the backing. I felt the safest way to print these blocks without damaging them further was to fix them to a board.
Step 1. Dilute a mix of water and PVA to coat the back of the lino block; the backing surface may absorb the liquid quickly.
Step 2. Apply a second coat of undiluted PVA to the entire surface.
Step 3. Place the lino block onto a sheet of MDF.
Step 4. Place even weight on top of the linoblock and MDF board, then leave to dry for a couple of days.
Step 5. Apply plaster gap filler to the large cracks, then gently sand and if necessary re-carve lines ready for printing.