Reduction Cuts


Above is an image created by a student at Waconia High School 4″ x 6″ on soft-cut. Click on it to see other students’ work from the same assignment!

First, we used a rubbery stamp-like plate, soft-cut, which can be purchased at most art stores. Some TC local stores would be Wet Paint and Dick Blick. Soft-cut or sometimes called “easy-cut” is lots easier to cut than wood or linoleum, but you do sacrifice some detail as compared to wood or lino cut.

We used the reduction cut method. Reduction cuts destroy the “plate”, surface you print off of, in the process. Instead of each color being a different plate, you print your lightest color first then carve the next color and print that. For instance, above, the student cut away everything that was white on the plate and then printed a green layer. Next the student cut away everything that was suppose to be green and inked it with blue ink and print that. And lastly, she cut away everything that was suppose to be blue and printed it brown. In this process you are left with only the brown layer left. This also means you need to print many of your first color so that you have enough good prints in the end because you cannot do it again – the plate is destroyed in the process.

One of the advantages of using reduction cut over multi-plate prints is that you do not need to cut several plates to the exact same size. However, you still need to make sure you have a good registration system in place to make sure your prints line up well with every pass through the press and for each color. This could be as simple as a piece of paper or plastic with marks for the block and the paper or as complex as making a wooden “L” to place the block in one corner and paper on the top edges of the wooden “L”. Just make sure it is consistent!

Examples of reduction cuts:
Linoleum Prints – Some great examples of reduction cuts
Cricket Press – Shows process and different states of their work
Prunella – Shows process, linocuts, and different states of work

Links that explain the process and define reduction cuts:
1000 Woodcuts
– Has a step-by-step example of each state of the plate in a reduction cut process
How to do a Lino Reduction Cut – Movie is a great step-by-step demo and quite thorough. I would only recommend showing small parts for a classroom or just demonstrating yourself. But excellent for adults viewing reduction cut for the first time.

Links about woodcuts and printmaking:
MOMA Printmaking – awesome interactive site about 3 different types of printmaking

-Shalanah Backus

Design & Layout of Book Published

Still Side by Side – by Janet George
Cover Design and Page Layout – Shalanah Backus

I’m happy to announce my first book design and layout has been published. Currently it is available as a digital download, but soon it will be in print too! The cover and back cover were designed using Photoshop and the inside pages were designed using InDesign.

This book was published by CBE and promotes the shared leadership of males and females in relationships and leadership by giftedness within the church and workplace (not by sex) from a theological viewpoint. Janet George covers several difficult topics and many commonly asked questions about leadership.

-Shalanah Backus

Form + Content Gallery


Wayne Roosa and Jeff Wetzig – Conventions of Disquiet – March 26-May 2

This past Saturday, I went to the Form + Content Gallery to see some work by two professors of mine in an intimate gallery space in downtown Minneapolis. Wayne Roosa (Art History Professor at Bethel) created icons from media culture (Some of these icons were angels, trap doors, an open hand from the sky, billy clubs, money bags, and parachutes to name a few) on small stamps. The stamps are very rubbery and hard to make small details with, but Roosa used a magnifying glass and a small exacto blade in order to create subtle tones and easily viewable expressions. He used these icons and mixed, matched, and repeated them to create different associations – some were images of brutality, protest, and money while others had an ambiguous but mystical feel. The prints were clean and loaded with content and style. I highly suggest taking a look (image left is an example).

disquiet3Jeff Wetzig (Printmaking Professor at Bethel) used prints as well, but created them using the Japanese printing method. One of his installations was several prints of ziplock bags that looked like they had been filled with air. And inside each one of them was an air pump. These prints were clustered near the top of the wall space further adding to the illusion of lightness air. He was able to create this effect because the Japanese printing method mimics watercolors and provides more value tones helping give 3D form to the ziplocks. Air was a recurring theme with windmills and air pumps as well as the male/female (using red and blue). One work of a blue windmill and a red windmill also displayed the wood he used in his reduction cut and the registration methods linked the two works suggesting dependence and a relationship. Although Jeff creates work seems whimsical, he can also create work of a more serious tone. His first artwork contained a fenced in area with two more fences inside of it (one red and one blue) developing feelings of insiders and outsiders, privacy, protection, personal space and community.

Go and see it! The work is affordable. Own one yourself!

See the exhibit? Have a review? Or suggest another!

-Shalanah Backus

Local Art Museums & Centers: Minnesota Center for the Book Arts Field Trip

logo1Amy Fischer, the art teacher from Waconia, asked if I’d like to chaperon a field trip with her NAHS students (National Arts Honor Society). I’m so glad she asked! It was a wonderful day and I have a new museum to plug!

First stop was MCBA (Minnesota Center for the Book Arts) and wow! I love the place! The space is terrific, big expanses of space, clean, rustic (they leave some of the old existing building structure within their remodeling), and it is filled with art (even the gift shop is filled with handmade bound books and prints)!

Their classes are great too! The students took a class on paper making. They had the choice of embossing their paper as well as adding elements on top (bits of newspaper/magazine paper, bits of dried plants, and thread). It was organized so well! Loved it. I will be back for a tour and hopefully a class or two! I would highly suggest it!

What are your favorite art museums and centers? Write your reviews.

-Shalanah Backus

401 Design Meditations

I’m reading through the compilation book 401 Design Meditations. And here are some of my favorites:6a00e009806a86883300e55044cbb28833-640wi1

  • “Art does not reproduce what we see; rather, it makes us see.” Paul Klee
  • “Form follows feeling.” David Turner
  • “Design should never say, ‘Look at me.’ It should always say, ‘Look at this.'” David Craib
  • (on branding) “Persuading outsiders to buy and persuading insiders to believe.” Wally Olins
  • “My favorite art definition comes from Brian Eno, who says to think of artworks not as objects but as ‘triggers for experiences.'” Stefan Sagmeister
  • Design that moves others comes from issues that move you. (good one for the classroom!) Jennifer Moria
  • Budget determines the vehicle for an idea, not the strength of the idea itself.
  • If graphic designers can learn anything from their past, it should be that the best graphic design doesn’t use the past to solve the complex problems of the present: it uses the present to reveal the possibilities of the future. Jeffrey Keedy
  • I am constantly surprised that it is called “low-brow” art, when it always seems to raise people’s eyebrows. Emek
  • When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful I know it is wrong. Richard Buckminster Fuller

Do you have any favorite inspirational quotations? Good design/quotation books? Share them!

-Shalanah Backus

Freelance Web and Graphic Design Now Offered!


You need someone to design that poster, shirt, logo, bag, or site you’ve always wanted? Let me help! I will be updating this blog with current freelance work and design packages! You can contact me directly at for requests and quotes (replace the AT with @).

Right now I am currently working as a graphic designer for CBE International and have knowledge of HTML, Dreamweaver, PHP, CSS, and XML. I mainly design in Photoshop and InDesign. See example of graphic design work here! Or check out my resume.

Stay tuned!

-Shalanah Backus