Sugar Mice - Laser Cut Rubber Printmaking Block

Laser cut rubber print block

I have been experimenting with laser cutting rubber to create different designs which I have then printed up on my letter press printing press.  I love the fact that I am using new technology to create an update on a linocut block, and I am printing these rubber blocks with a press which is over 200 years old.

Sugar Mice Fabric and Wallpaper Design

I had already created a sugar mice design using inkscape for a fabric and wallpaper design that I sell on Spoonflower.  I really liked it when I saw it as a paper, and I knew it could look great printed up in oil based inks.  There is also something very sterile about a digital print - when you print them up in 3D oil based inks on paper, the real life input of myself as an artist produces a completely different quality of image.

Laser cut rubber block sugar mice design

The rubber cut block is cut from a laserable rubber sheet.  I purchase this one from the 4D Model Shop.  You have to think very carefully as to which parts you cut and which parts you will rasterise. I cut around the edge of the block but rasterised around the detail of the eyes, nose, ears and tails.  To rasterise something means that you take off the top layer of the rubber, without cutting it.  Where there is fine detail, rastering minimises the possibility of damaging the rubber and losing these details.  I then cut the central parts of the mice out.  When you are laser cutting, you need to create the vector using the correct colours and line weights for cutting vs rastering.  You can see the rasterised vs the cut parts of the block very clearly when it is inked up as in the photo above.

Inked up lasered rubber block - sugar mice design

I really love the simple version of the two mice, and I printed it up in both pink and black.  However, I also experimented with creating some hand drawn simple patterns, which I printed out using my computer as a background - then printing out the mice on top.  I like the effect these create - it adds in another random element which knocks back the perfection of a rubber laser cut.  You can see in the the photo below that I slightly misaligned the stripes, and that the pink ink is textured - all of this adds interst to the print.  Rubber laser cutting combined with hand made printmaking will certainly be an area I will experiment with again.

Striped sugar mice handmade print in pink
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