Things to Do With a Four Inch Screw

17 Sep

Instead of lino or wood for making block prints, I use offcuts of ‘Foamex’ signwriters’ foam board, which local firms throw out, so it’s free AND recycled. It isn’t easy to cut with conventional cutting tools as the blades need frequent sharpening, which I do with a leather Slip Strop, but it’s very easy to press and incise using old biros, nails, screwdrivers and chisels. I made my own specialist tool with a four-inch screw with a bit of masking tape wrapped around it – low tech and very cheap. I like this method.

I can incise very straight, fine lines with the four-inch screw and a steel ruler. Most soft woodblocks would split and fray at the edges with such fine lines, and lines in lino would probably distort when going through a press but this method gives lovely crisp lines. The screw also makes a fine dotted texture if you just jab it in repeatedly.  I also like to use a cross-head screwdriver to punch textures into the surface – it’s very therapeutic! Flat head screwdrivers and small chisels can be tapped onto the surface with a tiny toffee hammer. Biros give a lovely scribbly texture but are a bit hard on the hand as it takes a fair bit of pressure. I think this method involves far more mark making and is much nearer to drawing than using lino or wood.


Foam block ready to print.

This is a foamblock ready to print. It’s a portrait based on a drawing I made from a photograph I took during a trip to Pakistan a few years ago. I used conventional cutting tools for part of it, along with my four-inch screw to do the lines and dots and a cross-head screwdriver to do the decoration on the hat. The photo was taken after I’d cleaned it up after a printing session.

Block print: Islamabad Man #1.


This is the block printed up. I did an edition of 20, printed in Intaglio Printmakers black litho/relief ink onto Zercoll 145gsm paper, using a Colombian press which was made in 1855. I love it – there’s a carved brass plate on it and a large cast-iron gryphon that rises up when you pull the handle. Class!







10 Responses to “Things to Do With a Four Inch Screw”

  1. mercedezhart October 11, 2011 at 03:45 #

    Such a neat process; I would love to try this sometime!

    • Rosie Scribblah October 11, 2011 at 14:19 #

      It’s so easy as long as you can get some foambaord.

  2. Hellopalz September 28, 2011 at 19:20 #

    Wow… that is pretty amazing!

  3. M. Crowther September 19, 2011 at 03:32 #

    This is truly inspiring stuff!

    • Rosie Scribblah September 19, 2011 at 08:32 #

      Thanks Melinda – I hope more people try out this material 🙂

  4. Rowan September 18, 2011 at 19:26 #

    This is fantastic! I do lino-cutting now and then (on my other blog, not the wp). Brilliant to read of an alternative method, and this is a first class example of a photo-graphic print. I am enjoying your blog very much, thank you!

    • Rosie Scribblah September 18, 2011 at 21:22 #

      Thanks Rowan – it’s worth trying because it’s recycling waste material and it gives some fnatastic marks 🙂

  5. Wicker September 17, 2011 at 22:40 #

    That turned out just beautifully. I really like the dotted section of the man’s cap, it would be very difficult to do that in linoleum. Very nice!

    • Rosie Scribblah September 17, 2011 at 22:42 #

      Thanks – it’s great stuff to use and because it’s free I find that I’m much freer with it than with lino, which is really pricey.

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