Rubbish that’s not rubbish at all


Things fall apart. They get old and decrepit and lose their shine. Bits fall off, and you can see where they’ve been used over the years, with little marks and rubs that tell a history.

I love all those bits. With the possible exception of food and perhaps car engines, I’d much rather have an old knackered thing than a sparkly new logo emblazoned thing. Which is why I like looking in skips. The last time I did, I found this top demijohn…


Look at that little noble swordsman there, on his gold background with his label all chipped and rubbed. Just magic. I knew I wanted to recreate it as a linocut print as soon as I saw it, and so I began thinking a reduction cut might be the best option.


First, I had to clean up the demijohn (and I still love that word no matter how many times I type it). Then I took a picture of it and started sketching out the key components. I knew I somehow wanted the finished print to look as aged as the item it showed, so I left in loads of the marks and worn areas intentionally, with a view to carrying them through each stage of the print.

I’m not really a master of the reduction print yet, so I decided to work with just two colours/cuts – one of the background…


And one of our hero in black to go on top…


The main challenge was to get the registration right, of course, but also to make it so there was at least the illusion of the bottle curving, which I did by having those sort of white specks and curved lines going around the to right.


After a lot of sweating and telling my cats to shoo, from a run of 30 I would be happy to put my signature on about 18-22. Which is a really good turn out for me.

So here’s the finished print a bit closer up. I work with Japanese ‘thin but tough’ Ho-Sho paper, and all of my prints are hand pressed, using cheap water-based ink like you get in school (cats, again).


And here are some more of the small details…



I’d definitely like to continue with this style of working. I think sometimes I’m guilty of trying to make prints look 100%, with no imperfections (usually failing). That’s also mildly impossible with a hand printing set-up.

And, that’s not what mine – or anyone else’s – life is like is it. If I wanted that, I’d do screen printing I guess.


Oh, and it’s available right here.

Keep it shoddy.


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