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How to make your own printmaking baren (step by step)

In this blog post, I'll show you step by step how to make your own printmaking baren.

I've tried several different printmaking barens but I've not found any to be able to print solid blocks of ink like this. It gives the pressure and precision of a wooden spoon and allows you to cover large areas quickly.

It cost around £10 to make and can be made at home within half an hour.

What you'll need...

  • A pasta/storage jar lid (wooden, ideally around 10cm)

  • Pack of 60 12mm wide glass cabochon (6mm domed)

  • Superglue with a fine nozzle

Making your own baren for linocut printmaking printmaker

I found 12mm domed glass cabochon to be a really great size but you can be a little flexible with the size if you want to use bigger/smaller. Give the surface of the lid a wipe and a dry before gluing.

How to begin...

The pattern by which you glue the cabochon down is worth noting. You can create a more visually attractive baren by starting in the centre of the lid and arranging the cabochon in concentric circles. But for our needs as a baren, we want to begin with gluing a ring of cabochon around the outside of the lid, as below.

You essentially want to create a seamless lip between the glass cabochon and the side of the baren, allowing you to curve and tilt the baren where you might need to apply more pressure in smaller areas.

Making your own baren for linocut printmaking printmaker

Making your own baren for linocut printmaking printmaker

Once the outer rim has been glued, continue gluing the cabochon in circles. This doesn't need to be super neat but try to push the cabochon as close together as you can in the centre. Here's a little video to show you the simple process of attaching the cabochon to the lid...

Once this is glued, leave to dry for a few minutes (follow drying instructions on the packaging if you choose to use an epoxy glue).

You are ready to begin printing!

I tested the baren on my Star Girl print with lots of solid areas of ink on the block.

I moved the baren in a circular motion (moving only a couple of centimetres at a time) and with less pressure than a wooden spoon (trust the glass cabochon to do the work here). I rubbed the paper that covered every part of the block as you would normally, and these are the results below.

Making your own baren for linocut printmaking printmaker

I hope this post has been useful to you in the wonderful medium of printmaking. You can follow my printmaking journey on Instagram here and support me on Etsy here.

1 Comment

A really useful blog but I cannot print it off and my computer is the other end of the house to my work, I understand the copyright issue but Arghh. Best wishes

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