Wood engraving

Just spend a fantastic day wood engraving at Badger Press. I did a lot of lino and aquatint back at school. While most people chased after balls, I was more than happy to hang out in the art room listening to the Orb. Anyway, so lots of love and thanks to my wife for arranging today as a birthday gift.

The approach was good. Only six people and a great teacher – Kate Dicker. Everyone got a small 2″ by 2″ block of lemon wood to work on, with all tools laid on. You stain the wood white and then, having traced, reversed and transferred an image from paper, you outline the black with marker. Then the tools come out. Lovely little wood and metal jobs with great names like scorpers, spitstickers and gravers. For the next six hours I was fixed on that little block of wood. As ever, it’s harder than you think, and I wasn’t even trying for a coherent picture, just a small part of a picasso picture for an outline. After a couple of hours I ran a proof through the press and was less than impressed…
Boring. I think I was being overly cautious. I mean – that cross hatching was just marginally more dull to do than to look at. Starting out slowly maybe. So had some lunch, looked through some books for inspiration and then went at it with renewed vigour. Made use of every available tool and wasn’t ashamed to gouge out the wood a bit…
This was more like it. I checkered the cross hatch with a square graver, and then with a couple of different sized spitstickers I went to work on the patterns on the right. I’m really please with the mid right hand bit. Looks like the crest of a hill in rain… well a bit like the view from my parent’s house with the snow still on the ridge line… Anyway, very pleased with my first print efforts in over 15 years. Tomorrow I’ve got a larger woodblock to work with, and I’m going for a representational landscape. I feel I’m about to run before I can walk. Wish me luck.

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