Monday, May 28, 2012

How to annoy local letterboxers *or* Why I'm loving this soft linoleum...

Okay, as a follow up to the last post, an update on a real carve of the new soft grey linoleum I picked up at DeSerres last week.  I've been contemplating the best ways to annoy local letterboxers, and I figure changing up my signature stamp again would be most effective.  I've been contemplating a new carve, which is both an image and letters, and I thought this would be perfect to really test the new material.

It looks shiny because the xylene was still damp.  But you can see the flawless transfer.
First off, my worries about being able to transfers onto this material given its dark colour are completely unfounded and I am more than happy with the results of my standard xylene transfer.

As you can see, the xylene actually produced a flawless creamy transfer onto the medium.  It looks white in the image to the right because it was still a little wet and reflected the light off of it.

Although the image was in black and the material is dark grey, the transfer was so good that it made no difference to me compared to transfers onto white material while carving under my magnifying light.

Here with a different angle to avoid the light glare, you can see that the transfer actually looks like I took a sharpie to it (I did not).  The image is clear and easily carvable.

You can see the lighter grey in the carved out portions here.
Next, the carving itself was really easy.  The material is really quite soft - more so than any other materials I currently use (pink stuff, Firm Cut, MZ, NZ).  As you carve, the carved out hollows actually look slightly lighter grey.  The material actually handles a bit differently - not better or worse, just different - and I think would take some getting used to. Carving the letters with the knife was a breeze, so was carving the image with gouges.

The hard part was physically holding the material because it is so thin (I hold my carvings in my left hand while carving with my right, rather than leaving the material flat on the table while I carve).  My happy solution was to tape it to a piece of acrylic which worked great.

Here are the completed and stamped images from my new signature stamp.  At the top is the impression using traditional dye ink, below is from pigment. 

I'm not sure how well this material would do with a highly detailed image.  Something makes me think that the material would not lend itself to them, particularly over a letterbox's lifespan.  But I'm talking about the REALLY highly detailed images.

Because the material is so soft, carving is a pleasure as the tools zip through the material without any force.  In fact, I could fault this stuff by saying the tools move through it too easily, but I suspect that is more from all the carving I've been doing on Firm Cut lately.

All in all, very, very happy with this material and I will be definitely buying up a whole ton of this stuff next time I'm out Oakville way.


  1. Now that is a stamp to be proud of. I love the image and the letters. I am glad the transfer worked. I have some of that stuff sitting to be carved. I will let you know how it goes.

  2. Being a carpenter, I would love to try this stuff out sometime. Any idea yet what it is actually called, or how I could find it? I still prefer FK over all else, but love trying new materials and experimenting with other things. Keep us posted, and thanks!

  3. Ms. Viking - Why, thank you! Looking forward to seeing how it turns out with some of your stamps :)

    Bubbaloo Magoo - Unfortunately, I have no idea what it is is called. When you buy a new sheet, all that is on it is a bar code sticker, and the ticket on the shelf at the store just labels it something generic like "soft linoleum material" or something vague like that. I bought it at a large arts store that is based out of Quebec called DeSerres (, but weirdly, this material doesn't seem to be in their online store). Next time I'm at the store, I'll try to find out some more info :)