I thought I’d repost this from my Facebook and Instagram last year, as patch repair and redesign comes up ALOT in different printing groups I’m a member of. And I’ve shared this technique on quite a few groups and people have found it very helpful. (I have edited it slightly since the original post)
This was a challenging block for me not just because it was the largest and one of the most detailed blocks I’d cut (at that time), but because I needed to do a patch repair. I simply didn’t like what I’d cut from my sketch. Carving a print block is a very “definite” kind of process, you can’t rub out the lines you don’t like as you would with a sketch. Once it’s cut, it’s cut… well almost…
I read up about various ways of repairing a lino print block. Some people glue a fresh patch of lino in place but that often doesn’t result in a flush well fitting patch which will lead to issues with inking and printing. Some use wood fillers or similar, this is a quick and easy repair but the filler doesn’t carve well and can crumble (if just want to fill in one stray line and not re-carve I’d recommend wood filler). If you have an area you want to re-carve Sugru is the way to go, you can make the patch an exact flush fit, and it carves well (Sugru even recommend it for making rubber crafting stamps). So here’s how I did it:
1. Decide what you’ve done is a pile of poo but don’t throw it across the studio, in a fit of artistic temperament rage.
2. Cut away all of the area you want to change.
3. Get some Sugru and read the instructions.
4. Fill the cut away space with Sugru, using small bits at a time making sure to push it in well. Try to get a fairly even and level surface, it is better to be slightly higher than the surface of the lino, you defiantly don’t want it to be lower than the lino surface.
5. Before it hardens make a nifty thumb cushion for your barren with the excess. Wait 24hrs for it to harden, do not be impatient, if you don’t wait it may not carve as well. Give your carving hands a rest for the night and have a drink instead.
6. Very carefully sand away using fine grit wet and dry sand paper till the surface is flush and smooth.
7. Very very carefully clear away any excess Sugru from the adjoining areas. The random dentist tools your father-in-law (who’s not a dentist) gave you may come in handy.
8. Re-carve the area with your new (more considered / error free) design.
9. Do a proof print and feel happy.
I’ll finish this post with a quote from the wonderful Bob Ross; remember that in art “There are no mistakes just happy accidents”. I made a little piece from one of my misprints (I always keep them to trail mixed media or make something new), with this quote and its stuck to my studio wall to remind me. So remember when you are carving a block and printing your prints you are a human not a digital printer. Your work will have print characteristics tell tail signs of the “artists hand”. So don’t be in to much of a hurry to fix something, maybe you can make it in to something else even more beautiful.