Block Block Block

17 Nov

 

Someone asked me about the difference in the final prints made by blocks in different materials so here are three I did earlier :). This top one is hacked from a piece of plywood. It’s very rough and choppy because the wood splinters when you attack it with the cutting tools and it also tends to split along the grain. Solid areas also show the grain when they’re inked up so it’s hard to get a solid black. Some expert printmakers, however, scratch the surface of the wood instead of cutting and gouging. This gives a very refined and delicate tonal quality – here’s a link to an accomplished Chinese printmaker, Xiang Sl, who does amazing huge portraits in this technique.

The next block print is one I did with PVC foamboard, used by signwriters. In Britain, it’s called Foamex. Signwriters usually give away their offcuts, so it’s free and recycled. Bargain. It doesn’t like being cut and blunts tools after a couple of gouges, but it loves being incised with the point of a nail or screw, the tip of a screwdriver or even a ballpoint pen, pressed hard. The solid white areas in this print are cut with conventional cutting tools, the fine lines incised with the point of a 4inch screw held against a steel rule and the dots were made with a crosshead screwdriver jabbed into the surface. It gets rid of a lot of stress. It gives very good blacks and you can do very fine linear detail, much more so than with softwood or lino.

Finally, here’s a reduction print in lino. I find it’s the easiest of the three to cut and the tools love it – they take ages to blunt. It’s great for getting lovely flowing lines, it’s like drawing with blades and you can be very free when you’re cutting into it, especially if you warm it gently before you start. Hhowever, you can’t get the very fine detail possible with PVC foamboard, because it squishes slightly in the printing press and finely cut lines can close up under the pressure.

Phew – that’s very geeky šŸ˜€

ps block printing is also known as relief printing.

3 Responses to “Block Block Block”

  1. The Blithering Idiot November 18, 2012 at 15:26 #

    Love the last one. Almost abstract with a Van Gogh type of feel to it. Very nice
    Hansi

  2. notes to the milkman November 18, 2012 at 00:41 #

    Thank you for answering my question so fully. Once I’ve finished my current OCA Drawing Course I plan to do their Printmaking Course. While I’ve done a fair bit of printmaking, particularly screen and gum arabic transfer, I’ve done very little relief printing. I now know what to expect with different materials.

    • Rosie Scribblah November 18, 2012 at 12:26 #

      You’re welcome. It was interesting to gather my thoughts on it. I love block printing because the cutting is intergral to it and gives such a varied means of expression. Oooh that sounds a bit pretentious doesn’t it? šŸ™‚

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