Wood Engraving with Letterpress (six-session workshop)

Combine your own image with text to create an editioned print, bookplate, or card. We’ll achieve this by creating wood engravings and printing them alongside of moveable type using Fleisher’s small proofing press and newly revitalized antique platen press.

Wood engraving is a relief process that involves using engraving tools to carve into the endgrain of dense wood. This differs from woodcuts in that woodcuts are carved from plank grain using gouges, knives, and chisels. The difference allows the artist to create highly detailed images that can be printed many times.

No previous carving or printing experience is necessary, but patience, good eyesight, and a steady hand are very helpful.

What you will learn in this class:

  • Registration methods – methods for accurately Lining up layers of color on their prints

  • Tools and care of tools

  • The qualities of various types of wood

  • The proper way to hold, maintain, and use carving tools and gain experience carving

  • To plan a color print by working reductively and with multiple blocks to create their images

  • Signing and editioning prints

  • Resources for relief printmaking supplies

  • Become familiar with the vocabulary associated with relief printmaking

  • How to adjust the pressure on and safely use an etching press to make their impressions

Required supplies:

  • Your woodblock will be provided as part of your lab fee, along with tools

Start the term with:

  • An idea in the form of a color sketch or photograph

  • One block of ¼” shina plywood 8 x 10 inches (included in lab fee)

  • Tracing paper

  • Sketching paper

  • Pencil

  • Newsprint pad 11” x 14” or larger

  • Paper for printing – we will discuss types of paper suitable for relief printing in class

  • Optional – one set of wood cutting tools that includes a knife, u-gouge, and chisel (see recommendations below).

Later in the term you will need:

  • 2-4 pieces of unmounted battleship gray linoleum or shina plywood (your choice). Do not use easycut, rubber, or mounted linoleum.

  • Advice regarding the purchase of carving tools: Some carving tools will be made available for use during class, but many students prefer to purchase their own so they can carve outside of class.

    Niji sets are available at the school store. This is an economical, set of low quality, but usable tools that cost approximately $15.00 per set.

    A higher quality set of five tools made by Powergrip is available from Amazon for $25. This set is good for beginner to intermediate carvers, and printmakers on the go.

    A wide selection of tools for beginners through professional carvers can be purchased from McClain’s Printmaking Supplies. They sell tools individually, or as sets.