The process Helen uses to make her hand-crafted art is known as reduction, elimination, or suicide linocut.
This is how Helen describes the technique. “The first step is to sketch a reverse image on the lino. Then I use a scalpel to carve away parts of the lino. Ink is applied to the surface of the lino using a roller, which gives a thin and even spread. Only the uncut surface of the lino that is in ‘relief’ -i.e. a higher level than other parts of the lino – will have ink on and that is what appears on the print.
A sheet of paper is placed on the inked lino and the ink transfers onto the paper by applying pressure from the press. This process is repeated on the same piece of paper for each successive colour and cut.
Once an area of colour has been printed, the lino must be carved away to allow the ink to show through when the next darker colour is printed over the top. This means I cannot go back to a previous colour because the lino no longer exists – hence the term ‘reduction’. It is vital to be accurate especially if multiple colours are to be applied – a millimetre out of registration and the image can be lost, wasting days and weeks of cutting and printing. Lino reduction printing is time consuming but it gives me such a thrill to see the art work slowly emerge in the way I envisioned it in my imagination’.”