Linocut Process: Making the Viking Ship Print from Idea to Completion

My family and I took a wonderful trip to Scandinavia a few years ago and one of the places we visited was the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway. I was taken with the aesthetics of the old viking ships they had on display and knew I wanted to somehow incorporate them into a print.

Viking Ship Museum in Oslo

I let the idea stew for a while and after illustrating a concept, I started carving a large 21-inch wide block of linoleum (mounted on plywood) last year and researched old Viking proverbs and alphabets (runes). I wanted to incorporate words into the composition and came across this perfect Icelandic proverb, "There seldom is a single wave." The proverb is found online amongst others here and here. I used websites like this one from PBS and here to translate the proverb into runes, as best I could.

Initial carving of the block in 2013

Frustratingly, I got to the point while carving last year where I didn't know how I wanted to proceed so I put the project off to the side for a while. Enter my new jigsaw and an 'aha' moment - I cut the carved block roughly into two halves. After taking some test prints, I realized that the blocks worked so much better printed on top of each other than as a larger reduction print, as I had originally envisioned.

Test printing the two blocks in 2014

I recently printed the final edition and it is now hanging to dry. First, I printed the background lino block in blue. Then I took the second block, which contained the ship and text, and cut the portion of the block with the text off that block. This allowed me to print the second layer as a jigsaw print - one color for the ship and a different color for the text. Once the individual blocks are inked with different colors, they're reassembled and printed with the etching press as one. This is how the final print turned out.

Final linocut print tentatively titled, "There seldom is a single wave"