In this workshop students will each get an 8” x 10” block of wood and carving tools. We will each carve and print our own block. Participants will bring their own paper and we will use a printing press to transfer the ink from the block onto the paper. We will print a 2 color reduction print in this workshop.
Relief block printing is a process where an image is drawn and then carved into a block of wood or linoleum and then the surface is inked up and printed.
When printing black ink on a white piece of paper, areas which will appear to be ‘white’ are cut away with carving tools, and the wood which is not carved away will show as ‘black.’ Therefore, an image is created by cutting out the areas around
the lines of the drawing.
A reduction print is a multicolor print in which the separate colors are printed from the same block at various stages in the cutting process. Typically the lightest color of the design is printed first, and then the block is further reduced through carving, and the block is printed with another color. The artist carves more areas and continues to print the same block several times. Once the first color is printed, the matrix for it is destroyed from the additional carving, so it is impossible to undo mistakes, and the edition size is set when printing the first color.
Relief printing is the oldest form of printmaking. Woodblock printed books from Chinese Buddhist temples are documented being in existence as early as the 8th century. By the 11th century, Buddhist temples in Japan printed books, sutras, madalas, and other texts and images. In European countries, woodcut printing started being used for old master prints around the year 1400. In Russia, a lubok is a popular relief print characterized by simple graphics and narratives derived from literature, religious stories, and popular tales. They were used as decorations in houses and inns beginning in the late 17th and early 18th century.
We will be using oil based ink which will permanently stain clothing which can not be removed with soaps or detergents, so wearing aprons or clothes which can be stained are strongly advised. The carving tools are sharp, so precautions need to be taken when handling the tools.
It’s a really incredible, surprising medium, and it’s not a forgiving process (an accidental line lives in the wood for an eternity!) so it’s great to have an open mind for imperfections. The beautiful lines and textures which are unique to each piece of wood will give each person’s image it’s own character. Woodblock printing is wonderful for people who enjoy textures. The use of oil based ink in the printing can give relief prints an almost painterly quality when multiple colors are printed.
Materials students should bring:
*pencils, erasers, sharpeners
*a couple sharpies (best to bring an orange *one and a black one)
*paper to print on (size to be determined after day 1)
*clothes that can get dirty
Materials provided by the printshop
*a block of wood
*ink (limited to what the printshop has)
Artist Meredith Stern obtained a BFA in Ceramics at Tulane University in New Orleans. She has developed a multifaceted practice that includes printmaking, ‘zine publishing and various social actions. Meredith has collaborated on several large scale art installations at Space 1026 inPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania; UWM Union Art Gallery at The University of
Wisconsin at Madison; The Miller Gallery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as part of the Pittsburgh Biennial; and in Ljubliana, Slovenia as part of the 29th Graphic Arts Biennial. She is a member of the North American printmaker cooperative, the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative. She has been working in linoleum and woodblock printing for 18 years.