Woodblocking – A Beginner’s Take

Ever since I went to the M.C. Escher exhibit at the Portland Art Museum, I have been intrigued with the idea of block printing. Until the exhibit I had always thought of Escher as the staircase guy.

Ascending and Descending

Ascending and Descending


..but the exhibit introduced me to a different side of Escher – a side that blows me away far more than any of his illusion pieces.
Snakes for example, was created out of three separately carved wood blocks – each carved in different ways to compliment the others and allow for multiple colors within the same print. One of the blocks was just the snake with the skin intricately notched out. The actual wood blocks were in the exhibit, behind glass that had dozens of little nose prints on it…you really needed to get that close to see just how amazing it was.
Snakes

Snakes


The day after the exhibit I went to Utrecht’s and bought a Beginner’s Block Print kit. If anything, the experience has made me all the more aware of what a genius Escher was.
This weekend I finally got a chance to try it out! One BandAid and 5 lobster cards later I can honestly say.. block carving is a very manual, but highly rewarding medium. I loved it.

Here’s what I did:

First I traced and transferred a picture of a lobster onto the linoleum block (its linoleum in this beginners kit…). Then I started to carve it out…very slowly..

starting to carve out picture...

starting to carve out picture...


Once I got the first cuts in, the rest was easier because the ‘trough’ was already dug around the image (the part that requires the MOST concentration).
mostly carved!

mostly carved!

I inked it up!
lobster5

And just like that – I was making lobster cards!

lobsters everywhere!

lobsters everywhere!

My two fancy ones were the dark green one (because that’s what an uncooked lobster can look more like…),,,

an uncooked lobster

an uncooked lobster

and this two-tone one. I inked the block with orange and printed it and then I inked the block with dark green and nearly got it to line up…nearly.

two-tone lobster

two-tone lobster

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One thought on “Woodblocking – A Beginner’s Take

  1. Love your lobster. First since it was inspired by our art museum adventure. Me, I just fantasized about having Escher ink those snakes on me somewhere. Second, lobster reminds me of home on Cape Cod. They are just so archaic and visually interesting….

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