Caustic Lino Block Etching and Online Exhibition

Caustic Lino Block Etching and Online Exhibition

My local group met before our summer break and tried some caustic lino block etching. I have wanted to try this technique for a while but hadn’t gotten my nerve up to be playing with caustic substances (100% lye). Then I found some instructions that seemed straightforward on this blog. (I am just giving the basics here, click on the link for the full instructions if you want to try it.) We followed the instructions, didn’t have any chemical disasters and etched our blocks.

I decided to do some small samples to test out the process before the group meeting. I already had some small lino blocks cut, I think these are about 3″ x 4″. I transferred the design with pencil and tracing paper, then painted on the resist area using Golden GAC 200 medium and let that dry.

Here’s the set up with the blocks in place. You can’t use anything plastic or the lye will eat it.

Here’s the mixture of lye and wheat paste that is applied to the lino blocks. The areas that are not covered with the GAC 200 resist will be etched away. The trial run, I left the lye in place for about two hours. Then the goop is cleaned up and the lino blocks cleaned with a toothbrush in soap and water. Then I used a standard blue ink pad to print these as I didn’t want to get out my full print making ink setup.

Here’s the resulting prints. Interesting, they look so different than the usual hand cut lino blocks. Once the group was here, we repeated the process and etched four more blocks that were 4″ x 6″.

Here’s Louise’s block on the left and the print on the right. I love the organic feel these prints have.

This is Paula’s block and resulting print.

Poppies for Sally in her block and print.

And mine is based on tree rings. I’m thinking about this as a theme for my upcoming art and design class.

I thought this process was relatively easy compared to carving a block and you can really get some fine details and a very different look than carving. I will definitely be doing more etching of lino blocks. Next I will have to try and print with these on felt and see how they come out.

Recently, we had our in person exhibition in La Conner, Washington for the class I have been participating in for nearly three years. Many of you don’t live close enough to attend but we are also having an online Meet the Artists event that anyone can attend.

You are Invited to an Online Exhibition and 

Discussion with the Artists of the

Bachelor Buttons Level 3

Advanced Experimental Stitch Class

Join Tutors Gail Harker and Penny Peters at a free online venue 

Tuesday July 19– 10:30 am – 12:30 pm  PDT

If you would like to attend this free event, you do need to sign up in advance. You can sign up here:

Meet The Artists-Level 3 Stitch

Join us online  (no fee) to view our Level 3 Advance Stitch student’s exhibition of creative stitched artwork. It will truly have you dreaming of wonderful possibilities there are for people just like you.  

Each of our participating artists will have a chance to talk about their experience working through this coursework, in spite of pandemic conditions!  There will be time for questions and answers with the artists.  

The event will be starting at 10:30 am PDT (West Coast US Pacific Daylight Time) and run until 12:30 pm PDT. To convert to your time zone, go to:


12 thoughts on “Caustic Lino Block Etching and Online Exhibition

    1. You should try it Tesi, another good mark making tool. It’s much easier than carving in my opinion and the fine organic lines would be hard to carve.

  1. Those are interesting results Ruth. It certainly looks quicker than cutting the blocks by hand, and possibly safer – possibly not, I suppose you could get burned by the lye just as easily as you could stab our gouge yourself with the lino cutters (I speak from experience there), but either way worth the risk! Were you using real linoleum or the more modern stuff which I think may be some sort of plastic?
    Do you need a camera on your pc to join the online exhibition and talks?

    1. Thanks Ann, yes, you could be injured in both processes but as long as you follow the directions on the caustic etching, you should be fine. I used real linoleum. I’m not sure it works on the plastic stuff. But I guess it could. From what I have read, people use the real linoleum with this method.

      You do not need to have a camera to join the online exhibition and talks. All you need is to have a speaker on your device so that you can hear. I hope you will be able to make it.

    2. Thanks Ruth, I’ve signed up and set a reminder. I’m looking forward to it – it will be a first time for me with that sort of thing.

  2. What interesting etchings, Ruth. They remind me very much of microorganisms when looked at through the microscope. I can almost see them moving!

    Will the exhibit offer a recording of the event?

    1. Thanks Leonor, I was pleased with the results. They definitely have some movement in the lines and shapes, don’t they?

      I am not sure about the recording. I think one will be made and might be posted on the website afterwards. There will be a gallery of student work on the website. Once the online exhibition is over, I will do a post here about the in person event. I will give the details in the upcoming post.

  3. Thats an interesting process. I think this would appeal to me rather than carving in to the blocks…. another rabbit hole!
    I’ve signed up for the “meet the artists” so looking forward to seeing you and your work.

    1. Thanks Karen, it was an interesting process and much easier than I expected. Always another rabbit hole to dive into! 😉

      I’m glad that you’ll be joining us, I hope you enjoy the “show”.

  4. Oh …bother! I missed the online exhibition – I missed the reminder and then completely forgot about it. I was so looking forward to seeing all about the Book of Edgar, Ruth. I do hope that, if a recording of the exhibition isn’t put up, you’ll do us a post on your part in this, (or even if it is).

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