I didn’t get many good prints tonight. I’m not sure that I got even one that really satisfies me – from this block, at least.
As with all failures and frustrations in printing, I did learn a few things. The most significant (and disappointing) thing I learned is that the Speedball hand press I managed to get for free is about worth the price I paid for it.
Actually, that’s not entirely fair: it works beautifully for soft blocks. I tested it with the linocut in the image, a Speedball Speedy-Carve , a MasterCarve block, and some gum erasers that I carved a while ago. Speedy-Carve and things of similar ilk are much easier to cut, and carry the particular satisfaction of being (as the name declares) quick to carve. The press worked really wonderfully with the soft stuff, but not with the linoleum.
Unfortunately, I really like the crispness and amount of detail one can get with linoleum. I did get some decent Medusa prints with the hand press when I put a felt down on the press bed and stacked a few pieces of mat board on top of the linoleum (so the stack went: foamy press bed, felt, paper, linoleum, mat boards). I could probably use a piece of plywood instead of mat to even out the pressure, since that seems to be the worst problem… and then the Speedball hand press might be serviceable for linocuts. For the size I’m working with, though, it seems more practical to just hand print them.
I’m going to try printing the Medusa with my baby etching press, but that will have to wait until I have more time.