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.
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.