This is a post I've been meaning to write for a long time. One reason is that I get asked a lot what brand a certain tool/block is and where to buy it; another is that I truly believe in the power of sharing resources and techniques. Also, if more people try out printmaking after learning from my experience and mistakes, I'm sure printmaking materials and supplies will be more widely available (especially in Sweden) too.
This will be a rather long post with lots of pictures and resources, so feel free to save it to read later. I'd really appreciate if you share it on social media - more readers help and motivate me to post more on printmaking and illustration :)
So, a few notes about the suppliers mentioned in this article:
This is not a sponsored post. I will specify which suppliers I have purchased before, as well as mention some others that I know of. My description will be based on my personal experience and my knowledge of their stock.
I will cover both Swedish and international, both online and physical shops.
This article is meant to share where I buy my printmaking supplies, so based on where you live, you might find suppliers that carry a larger stock, offer lower prices/shipping, or work better for your needs for some other reason.
Click images to enlarge them, and on the suppliers' names to visit their websites.
I use a wide range of materials for my linocuts and rubber stamps and I frequently buy from these suppliers below, in a rough order of how often and much I buy from them.
Stampeaz - USA, online. I searched my order history and the first order I place with Diana was Febrary, 2011 and I've been buying a few batches from her every year since. Shipping can be quite a pain if you live outside the US like I do, but the stock makes up for it, and if you reach out to Diana before making a big order, she's always happy to help figure out the best shipping option. What I buy here:
Speedball Speedy Carve. This is the pink rubber you see a lot on my Instagram; great for stamps: it's soft so easy to print by hand.
Jack Richeson Easy to Cut Linoleum. It comes unmounted and is butter-smooth to carve; can be used in place of traditional Battleship gray linoleum. Too hard to use for stamps, but prints perfectly for linocuts.
OZ Kut. White rubber I've been using for some stamps. A bit harder and thicker than Speedy Carve.
Artistica.nu - Sweden, online. The only Swedish shop I found that carries the green Japanese vinyl blocks. The material is softer than traditional linoleum, takes details beautifully and can be carved on both sides, but it's hard to get a clear pencil transfer of the design, and to see the design clearly when you carve.
IB Wahlström - Sweden, online and physical shop (Olofsgatan 10). They carry traditional gray lino as well as Adigraf, an Italian carving material that's very soft and rubbery. Swedish schools use this a lot in art classes. Fairly easy to carve, but hard to get fine details. This shop also has other beginner-level carving blocks, most of which I have tried and wouldn't recommend.
Carving & sharpening tools
Jackson's Art Supplies - UK, online and physical shop. I buy my Pfeil tools here. There are some Swedish web shops that have Pfeil (Boesner, Slöjd-detailjer, Holm Trävaror), but I have yet to purchase from any of them.
I also use gouge with sets of blades from Speedball and Esdee; both I highly recommend to beginner and intermediate printmakers. I believe I bought mine from Stampeaz and IB Wahlström respectively, but they are rather popular so you should be able to find them in other online shops.
Hyvlar.se - Sweden, online. If you have gouges like Pfeil that needs more maintenance and sharpening, the Flexcut Slip Strope sharpening system works very well. Hyvlar is the shop where I got mine; you'll be also able to find it in art supply shops as well as carpentry shops.
I'm not gonna write about scalpels this time for two reasons. One, I don't use scalpels a lot for linocuts and two, I find the grip and the angle of the blade more important that the brand or model, so if you are starting with rubber stamps or carving softer materials, you should be able to find a scalpel that works nicely in your local stationary or craft supply place.
- IB Wahlström - Sweden, online and physical shop (Olofsgatan 10). I buy most of my papers here: Hosho, Yamashiro and Chinese mulberry paper.
- Konstnärernas centralköp - Sweden, online and physical shop (Fiskargatan 1A). They also carry Japanese and Chinese mulberry paper.
- If you don't live in Sweden, your local art supply shops should carry some Japanese paper. Hosho is thicker and great to work with (be sure to print on the smooth side); Yamashiro and Chinese mulberry are much lighter and have beautiful fiber-y textures.
- After a long phase of experimenting and frustration I now stick to Caligo Safewash Inks and I buy them from Jackson's Art Supplies. These inks are "oil-based but they can be washed away safely with liquid hand soap and water".
- There are other things you might need like a sheet of non-slip mat, cut proof gloves (I use disposable rubber gloves when I start to sweat), carbon paper (for transfering the design onto the block), Japanese brush pen or marker pens to draw the design, ect.. You'll be able to find all of them on Ebay, Amazon, or your local shops.
That's all I can think of for now! This article focuses more on linocut than stamp-making; for the latter you can check out my previous blog post on stamp-making tools and materials.
If you have any questions you can of course comment or get in touch. Again, I appreciate your sharing the post and spreading the word on social media - I believe everyone can use a little creativity and inspiration in their life :)