Saturday, February 5, 2011

Printing by Hand

In addition to studying painting and art education in college, I studied printmaking.  Though I didn't get to take nearly as many classes as I wanted to (they say it takes an average of seven years to get through art school; I took ten), I did manage to fall in love with making woodcuts.  I've made a few here and there since my college days, and thought I'd share a recent print with you.

Unfortunately, this is not a tutorial, though I suppose I could work one up for the next print I do, it's just some pics of the process.  The final product is nice, but the process is what makes it so cool, in my opinion.  There are so many steps, and the actual cutting of the wood can be extremely meditative.  Note: Don't drink and cut.  I learned this the hard way one night with a bottle glass of red wine; the tool went straight into my bare foot- I was sitting cross-legged, at home, on the couch.  That was eleven years ago, and I've never made the same mistake.  Great- now I've probably jinxed myself.

Anyway... Amanda, at Kind Over Matter recently introduced me to my new favorite band and their songs feuled my process.  You can have a listen if you like (she's got more of her favorites over at KOM):

Disclamier:  I am a night owl, so most of the lighting on my pics suck.  Sorry.  Okay, here you go:
Um, yeah- waxed paper on a baking sheet isn't really the professional way to do it, but hey, you gotta' work with what you have!

I use a Japanese printing paper called Kitakata (kinda' makes me want a kit kat).  Instead of rolling the block and paper through a press, when you hand print, you use this little tool called a "baren".  The nicer ones are not made out of plastic- they are made out of reed, bamboo, or beech wood.

Again- workin' with what I have; I don't have any drying racks in my studio, so onto the blinds they go to dry!

Hope you enjoyed this little journey.  I'm doing a heart next, so maybe I'll think about having my camera around for the full process.  A tutorial would be fun!


  1. Nothing wrong with using a baking pan. I use one with wax paper in it for paint. I was going to throw it away anyways. You should see some of the concoctions I come up with for drying, painting, printing, etc. I made my screen printing frames using crayons(resist) and white glue.

  2. Hilary, that's awesome. I think I'm going to start taking pics of all the things I use for a "palette" :)

  3. oooh, your cuts are so pretty. I want to grab a green crayon and draw curly trees on the branches :)

    LOVE bon iver! I've been ignoring him lately so thanks for the reminder. Have you heard Stacks?

    Palettes? Yogurt lids and saucers no longer belonging to teacups

  4. p.p.s. Just saw your twitter and see that you are already addicted to Stacks. (It's a great place to be :)

  5. CS, thank you! And yes, addicted to Stacks, I am. Fo Sho.