Back to the Bench Hook

I don’t think I have posted any info about my printmaking efforts since starting this blog. This past week or two I began work on a new woodcut for a print exchange, and decided to take a few pictures along the way.

First I choose a design and work it up on paper. In recent months I have started doing Xerox transfers to put the design on the block: basically I make a fresh Xerox, and tape it facedown to the block. Then I moisten a cotton ball with oil of wintergreen, lift the paper from the block and wipe down the back side of the Xerox with the oily cotton. The paper darkens, and there is a bit of shine on the copy side where the toner is activated; then I place the paper firmly on the block, cover it with scrap paper, and run it through the press. The Xerox toner transfers to the block, leaving a reversed image on the block, so that the final print looks like my original image.

I then go back over the Xerox with a Sharpie to emphasize the lines, as I do reduction plates and the toner fades a bit after the first printing. In this case, I also used a white pencil to mark out the highlights on the block, to strengthen the design in my mind. Then I carve.

Pause block before printing

Once I felt good about the placement of the white highlights, I test-printed, cut a bit more, and printed the first color of my edition, in this case burnt umber. You can see in the printed image that I used a stippling technique for this print, made with an etching needle. It was my first experience with stippling, and I was afraid the little holes would get flooded with ink as I printed, but they showed up very nicely.

Pause first printing

This woodcut is going to be a light-over-dark reduction print, so I am currently carving from the block all the places that will remain umber; the rest of the print will be a yet-to-be-determined midtone. I’ll post another photo when it is finished, sometime before the end of the month.

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