Halloween Carving - Sudden Write Turn Freelance Writing

Halloween Carving

Week Two of Linoleum Block Cutting was finishing the sampler and printing. My sampler had me conceptualizing, sketching and using nearly all of the gouges – a real run through the creative gauntlet, but a practical adventure!

The printing exercise is more practical adventuring in water-based ink, several kinds of papers and different methods of ink transfer. I imagine that Victoria’s house must be a lot like Victoria’s brain – every corner stacked with “options” for art. Not in a pack-rat way, but in the visionary’s way of seeing the world. Living your creativity like that, you are literally surrounded by opportunity to make art.


Boo! My sampler: inked block in the middle + prints

Up a narrow staircase to a bare-brick wall room in this old firehouse, a dollar store cookie sheet is my palette, where I’ve rolled out a sheen of water-based black ink with my brayer. I ink up my sampler liberally, or so I think. The first print comes out so-so; a lot of light spots on my brown craft paper, which is another example of seeing opportunity – it is simply the paper that separates expensive sheets of rice paper.

I squirt out more black ink onto my cookie sheet palette, feeling a little like I’m dispensing some kind of macabre toothpaste. It seems like too much, but it is exactly what I need. Another laborious application with the brayer and I position my sampler again for printing, this time using a Baren rather than the wooden spoon. Shaped rather like a hamburger press, I prefer this method of transfer as the handle is more comfortable than a spoon in my usual fear-of-failure death grip. I rub away.

Lo and behold, we have a print!


I’m not great at this. The linoleum often crumbles under my gouging; marring what little third grade level design I was able to transfer. Unlike my attempts at guitar and knitting, however, linoleum block printing hasn’t yet felt unattainable as an art.

Our next project is a bookplate, this time carving on softer, “gummier” linoleum. I transfer my simple sketch and realize that due to the fine lines I will need to begin with the “veining” gouge – the narrowest of the carving knives. A.K.A., my nemesis.

What’s this? My gouge gliding along, smoothly slicing out the thinnest of lines and behaving for me on a curve? Is this me carving linoleum? Gummy linoleum…I think I love you.


I received an envelope back from The Sun magazine this weekend. It was fat, and the addressing was in my own handwriting. Not a good sign. My story had returned to me, read, but unaccepted.

Difficult things are usually worth doing and if it’s worth it to me I suppose I have to keep trying. I’m not the first writer to get a rejection letter (though, it was more of a kind apology), but this is my first.

There are worse horrors in life. I guess I roll out the ink, and try again.


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