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THE ART OF WOODBLOCK PRINTING

 

The art of woodblock printing is a technique that developed in Asia several centuries before Europe. The earliest surviving woodblock printed fragments are on cloth from China before AD 220. The Chinese were the first to use the process, printing solid text. Much later, in Europe, the printing of images on cloth developed into the printing of images on paper. Another rarely used term for woodcut is xylography.

 

Technique

 

The woodblock is a relief pattern process. The areas to show 'white' are cut away with a knife, chisel, or sandpaper leaving the characters or image to show in 'black' at the original surface level. The block is cut along the grain of the wood unlike wood engraving where the block is cut in the end-grain. You need to only ink the block once and then bring it into firm and even contact with the paper or cloth to achieve a quality print. Content, when text is involved, becomes complicated because it prints "in reverse" or mirror-image.


Materials


Although Mr. Mateer used pine as his preferable wood, he did on occasion, for more intricate work, use linoleum. His choice of paper for the prints was Japanese rice paper.


Colors


Mr. Mateer used red as an accent color in all his woodblock prints. When printing in color, multiple blocks are used, each for one color. Overprinting two colors can produce additional colors on the print. Multiple colors are printed by keying the paper to a frame around the woodblock.

                   
As I was going to St. Ives