Updated: Nov 1, 2021
Registration is the process of aligning your lino block and paper. Accurate registration becomes even more important when you start working in colour, whether it be multi-block or reduction printing.
I have tried a few different methods of registration since I started printmaking. The following method, thus far, is the most straight forward and simple with great results.
It doesn't matter if you are printing using a press, or hand burnishing with a baren or wooden spoon.
I wanted something for my lino blocks to snuggly butt up to and hold in place whilst printing. Having scoured the internet for some time, I came across this framing square from Screwfix. Its made of steel (so doesn't bend) but most importantly is 3mm thick, which is a fraction under the thickness of the battleship grey lino I use. I tend to buy pre-cut lino from Essdee or rolls from Handprinted UK.
I bought two of the squares, butted them together and secured them to my press bed using strong double sided sticky tape. Make sure the edge of the square is positioned towards one side of the press bed.
*Please note* Any good hardware store should sell framing squares. I just so happened to find this one on the Screwfix website as I'm based in the UK.
Whether your using one block, or multiple blocks, make sure the lino is cut at exactly 90 degrees. It needs to fit snuggly into the jig with no movement at all. If there is movement, this could effect the registration, meaning the paper and block may not align properly in the same position. Take your time cutting the linoleum...don't rush things!
Having secured the framing square to your press bed, and making sure your lino block is cut to 90 degrees for entry into the jig, its now time to create an 'edge' for your paper to sit against. Its best to use a strip of the same make of paper your are printing on.
Carefully cut a strip of paper, roughly 3 or 4 inches longer than your printing paper, at around an inch thick. This piece of paper needs to be attached parallel to the edge of the framing square, as it will act as a guide to align your printing paper once your block is in place.
Measure how far you want the paper to be from the print, this will be your margin. In my case this was an inch. Gently score a feint line using a craft knife, or use a pen that will show up on the square. Once you have a parallel line with the edge of the square, attach the strip of paper with masking tape. Make sure this is taped down securely, as you don't want this moving from it's position...
...be sure to have the end of the paper strip at the correct distance from the top of your block. Again, this will be a guide for the paper to align to and determine the size of your margin.
You're now ready to print! Once you have your lino block inked and in position within the jig, simply butt your printing paper against the paper strip. Make sure the top of the paper aligns exactly with the top of the paper guide. Gently push the paper onto the block... it helps if you bend the paper slightly as you do this.
Run your paper through the press, or hand burnish with your baren/ spoon, and hey presto... you have a near perfect registration! This technique is particularly good for colour printing, whether it be multi-block or reduction printing.
Pat yourself on the back, have a cup of tea, a beer, or whatever floats your boat! Click here to see a video on my Facebook page showing me using this method.
If you like the look of this handsome French Bulldog multi-block print, you can purchase this on my store by clicking here.
I really hope anyone reading this finds it helpful :)