I recently started inventory of all the stray pieces of linoleum I’ve collected over the years, seeing what’s still usable and seeing what’s fell to the ravages of time. Linoleum is a long lived material for printing, but there is a shelf life if you want to carve it. I still haven’t found that magic number, but with a combination of time and exposure linoleum eventually becomes too stiff or brittle to carve comfortably. Stubborn linoleum can be made malleable when warmed up (in fact, I recently bought a heating pad to help keep pieces soft when I carve during the colder months) but little can save old lino that’s turned hard.
I found a piece I had tinted long ago. It’s not one of my oldest pieces but being I can’t remember when I got it or tinted it I know it’s several years old. I wish I knew where I had gotten it because unlike some of the other pieces I’ve had lying around (and even some I’ve bought very recently) this piece was stiff incredibly soft with a mat finish that absorbed the wash and the Sharpie marker very well. Sometimes it’s a struggle to get anything to stick to the oily surface of linoleum (a linseed product) so finding this piece was a boon.