A Humongous Proof

11 Oct


Today was day 2 of a Masterclass with woodcut artist John Abell at Swansea Print Workshop and I carried on cutting the humongous piece of MDF I started yesterday. I used compressed charcoal to darken the surface while I cut with my Flexcut tools. Finally, I reached the point where I wanted to get an idea of what it would look like printed up – you can always cut more away but you can never replace it once it’s gone. So I printed a proof print. This is a first pull, to see what you’ve done and decide whether it’s just right or needs more work.


I used a 50:50 mix of Daler Rowney Georgian Lamp Black oil paint with their Block Printing Medium, very soft, much softer than the relief printing ink I normally use. I rolled the ink over the wood, but it was very absorbent and used up far more than I am used to. I used Fabriano Accademica paper from a roll which was a bit awkward to handle at that size. I used a wooden spoon and a Japanese baren, rubbing hard over the back of the paper to take the print.


I have mixed feelings about it. I like the bits where I used a larger cutting tool in bold strokes, towards the top, but where I tried smaller tools to get a softer, more nuanced effect, it didn’t work at all and I need to get back into it, cutting much more boldly. I think I’ll also put in some lettering. But I’ll leave it a few days to dry out a bit so I’m not cutting through sticky goo.

11 Responses to “A Humongous Proof”

  1. kestrelart October 18, 2015 at 16:23 #

    Fascinating piece.

    • Rosie Scribblah October 18, 2015 at 17:19 #

      Thanks – it was quite a challenge to take a print with a wooden spoon on that scale!

      • kestrelart October 18, 2015 at 20:09 #

        Yes, I can imagine it was. I was impressed when I read it. But I really like the design. I don’t know what’s in your mind but something in your design makes me think of the Second World War. I’m not sure if that’s just me imposing my current thoughts on your piece.

      • Rosie Scribblah October 19, 2015 at 07:35 #

        It was spontaneously drawn in charcoal on the day using some photos of the ephemeral work I had done at The Bagpuss Window a few weeks before. I was thinking a lot about my ancestors, much of my work is inspired by the dead and in particular I was thinking about my Uncle Reg who had been a Commando in WW2. Interesting …..

  2. Mary cairns October 13, 2015 at 14:31 #

    What a lovely informative post .

  3. wytsenoordhof October 12, 2015 at 22:26 #

    FASCINATING!! It reminds me to an early attempt of etching in cardbord. This looks good. What size of MDF did you use?

  4. Nancy Farmer October 12, 2015 at 07:54 #

    wow! Humongus indeed! I see what you mean, too, the top has come out really well though, sort of hints of Edvard Munch?. Doesn’t the MDF go all soggy when you put the ink on? When you put water on Mdf it expands and comes apart but I assume it’s an oil-based ink?

    • Rosie Scribblah October 12, 2015 at 08:44 #

      Oh yes, oil based, has to be. I was trying out different cutting tools as I had not used MDF before. The big ones give a great effect but the fine lines are not strong enough. I will re cut with the bigger gouges.

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