Intro to Printmaking, I

Since I’m primarily a printmaker, I thought that I’d start off my Thursdays with a quick intro to printmaking. I primarily do relief printmaking in wood, with a few forays into linoleum and that wonderful white eraser rubber stuff. I’ve done etching, drypoint, monotype, screenprinting, and a couple other methods, not always successfully, but many of those methods require a much fancier setup than I have currently. Relief, on the other hand, does not require a huge amount of space, and can be printed by hand rather than needing a huge press setup or vats of acid or giant slabs of limestone. Screenprinting is also fairly easy to do in, say, a garage, but that’s a subject for another day.

I posted up a scan of one of the final the Winter Bird prints yesterday, so today I’ve got a picture of it about a third of the way carved. You can see I started with the outside; the order that pieces are carved in doesn’t really matter.

Brrrr.

In this case I drew straight on the block, totally forgetting that the final would be reversed, and then swore a bit. After I’d decided that the image worked just as well reversed, I primed the surface with ordinary white Elmer’s glue. Priming with glue isn’t always necessary, but in this case the lines were so fine that I was afraid that the . The glue (a very light coat) helps hold the wood fibers together and also smooths the surface. That done, I inked the picture with a brush. Really only halfway- you can see that I didn’t use a terribly organized process with this one. When more colors are involved, it takes a lot more planning and precision. I inked the surface mostly so that I could tell what lines I would be carving on.

Usually I prime a woodblock with a light wash of watercolor so that the carved surface and the surface that will print are more clearly differentiated — this one I didn’t bother because it’s such a tiny quick piece. The feathers were tricky, though. I mostly used a knife.

Whew, that’s a lot of information in a short time. And carving is the easy part! Next Thursday: carving tools!

I know I have a tendency to dump a lot of information fast and/or without context, so if you have any questions, please ask.

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3 Comments

Filed under Art, Printmaking

3 responses to “Intro to Printmaking, I

  1. YHL

    Oh, this is very cool–your work has made me wonder how printmaking works, and I’d occasionally leaf through art catalogues and get intimidated by the huge variety of equipment there seems to be. But the results are so neat!

  2. I’m glad you’re enjoying it! There is quite a lot of equipment. My favorite specific catalogue to look through is the McClain’s website, http://imcclains.com/ which caters to the Japanese style of relief printing. You might like poking through it. Sadly, almost all of the tools are (understandably) super expensive, so most of it is very wistful browsing for me.

  3. Robin

    Man, that ‘things print reversed’ deal gets me every time!

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