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Oil of Wintergreen revisited

In my Rare Book School book illustration process identification classes, I
have each student make a linoleum cut from an image I provide. In the past,
I've attached the paper containing the photocopied image to the surface of
the lino block with white glue and had students cut through the paper to
create the image. This has never been very satisfactory--so when there were
several exchanges on this list several months ago about the use of oil of
wintergreen for transferring photocopies to the surface of relief blocks, I
stocked up. (The local K-Mart pharmacy did not carry oil of wintergreen but
could order it for me. A small bottle costs $5, but lasts a long time.)

The methods given on this board did not work for us, perhaps because of the
non-porous nature of linoleum: we could not get a good image by brushing
the oil onto the back of the photocopy and then pressing it face down onto
the surface of the block and rubbing it.

James Davis found a better way: paint the surface of the block with the
oil, then place a dry photocopy face down onto the block, then rub the back
with a spoon. Getting the right amount of oil onto the linoleum takes a bit
of practice (the technique is easily acquired, and failures can be removed
with turpentine). Our own experience is that this method works equally well
with both recently-made and old photocopies.

The result is entirely satisfactory: clean, crisp transfers that dry hard
overnight and don't rub off when cutting the block.

I've recently finished a very successful session of my illustration course
in the RBS January session using wintergreen-transfer images onto lino
blocks. The Book Arts Press still smells like a locker room (the usual use
of oil of wintergreen seems to be as a massage lubricant and backrub), but
I'm a convert.

Terry Belanger  :  University Professor  :   University of Virginia
Book Arts Press : 114 Alderman Library : Charlottesville, VA  22903
Tel: 804/924-8851   FAX: 804/924-8824  email: belanger@virginia.edu
            URL: http://poe.acc.virginia.edu/~oldbooks/

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