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Hobbies To Consider For The New Year: Linoleum Block Print Cutting

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

In some parts of the world, 2020 has already arrived. So no pressure, but if you don't have a resolution yet, listen up. All this week, we're hearing from listeners with ideas for adding something new to your life, a new hobby. Today, the case for linoleum block print cutting.

LAYNE SCHERER: My name is Layne Scherer, and I live in Washington, D.C. My hobby is linoleum block print cutting. What that is is taking a block of linoleum, basically turning it into a stamp and then making prints from it, whether they're cards or on just pieces of paper, and running as many of them as I like.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SCHERER: This type of block printing is something that has really just called to me. I can make a lot of stationery from it. So it has some sort of use. I can send the art to friends and family, and it really challenges my perspective, which is the thing I think I like the most about it. You have to make the image in the mirror reverse of what you want it to look like. And so working on that, it's a nice mental puzzle in addition to making something really cool.

It just requires so much more attention than anything else. And so that immersive quality really helps me focus in a way that I don't really do in almost anything else in my life.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SCHERER: I do a lot of stationary, and so I did one this fall that says, hello gorgeous, and it has a cornucopia with a bunch of gourds in it that's done with watercolor on top. I did a series of food puns that are related to celebrities. My mom is a big Barbra Streisand fan, and so I have one that's Rhu-Barbra (ph) Streisand, and it's a stock of rhubarb that is dressed up like Barbra Streisand, which is quite nice.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SCHERER: Block printing has been a way for me to, when I've been recovering - I had knee surgery a couple years ago. I'd gotten out of a 10 1/2 year relationship, two of my grandparents had died. And so I was spending a lot of time that winter recovering, and it was probably the most productive time that I've ever had. I just sat and, you know, went through, you know, block after block of linoleum.

You have, like, a sharp, little knife. And you're really just carving away at linoleum and just getting, you know - kind of strip by strip taking something that was whole and getting it into an image that you want. It's very soothing. It helps me sort of slow down and, you know, let whatever is happening to me surface. And it has really just been a really important part of helping me heal in a lot of different ways.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.