• haychley

different lino blocks - compare and contrast

Following on from a previous post detailing my tools and suppliers, I wanted to expand a little bit on the different types of lino blocks that I use and why I use them.

I alternate between three main types, depending on what I’m creating; traditional grey hessian-backed lino, Japanese vinyl and Speedball speedy carve. Below are some pros and cons I’ve assembled based upon my experience with the three types.

Traditional grey hessian-backed lino

This grey material is most commonly associated with lino printing. Below, you can see some example cuts into the lino using a variety of different sized tools and the block I carved to print 'Alley Cats'.


  • Inexpensive to buy

  • Buy in pre-cut A4/A3 blocks or a large roll

  • Great for fine detail

  • Widely available

  • Physically easy to carve


  • Difficult to cut into smaller blocks as the backing it so strong

  • Can be difficult to clean as ink stains the block

  • Degrades over time and becomes dry and brittle (at room temperature, fresh lino should be bendy and have that lovely linseed smell)

  • Can be difficult to see where you’ve already carved

a traditional grey hessian back linseed lino block

a lino block carved into a print called the alley cats based on the board game

Japanese vinyl

This blue-green vinyl is a lot more aesthetically pleasing I find than grey lino and either side of the block can be carved. Cutting into it reveals a black layer underneath which is great for seeing where you have already carved.


  • Relatively inexpensive to buy

  • Buy in pre-cut blocks

  • Black layer revealed as you cut into the block

  • Easy to cut block without mess

  • Great for large blocks of colour/minimalist designs

  • Easy to clean the block after use


  • More difficult than grey lino to physically carve (tools need to be sharpened frequently)

  • Less widely available

  • Fine details can be difficult to achieve without practise

cuts made on blue green japanese vinyl used in lino printing

an example of a carved japanese vinyl block as a fern design

Speedball speedy carve

I use this pink rubber material for making my wood mounted stamps as it works incredibly well with an ink pad but I have seen artists use much larger blocks to create full size prints too.


  • The best stamp carving material available

  • Incredibly easy to carve physically

  • Blocks can be very easily cut


  • Expensive to buy

  • Unforgiving (even the smallest mistakes will show on a print)

  • Less widely available than traditional lino

speedy carve pink speedball rubber carved into a mushroom toadstool stamp design

a mushroom toadstool stamp on handmade mulberry paper print and ink

What type of lino do you prefer to use and why? Let me know in the comments below.