What in the world is a block print?!!

Over the years I've been asked this question so many times. Since we've all become so accustom to computers and photoshop, most people assume that these prints are in fact printed from a computer. THIS IS NOT SO.

A block print is a print pulled from a carved block of wood or linoleum.

Here's the process (it's fascinating!):

Step 1: Draw you image on the linoleum block. Images can be drawn onto wood or linoleum blocks with pencil. They can also be transferred by drawing on top of carbon paper.

Step 2: Carve image. Images print in reverse and will print only the part that you don't carve out. There are many tools for carving. I prefer a simple "V" shaped tool.

Step 3: Set-up and prepare inks. Inks have to rolled out and warmed before they can be rolled evenly over blocks.

Step 4: Ink the block. Ink is rolled over the carved wood or lino block. It takes many layers before it will print well and knowing when it's inked is a skill learned with time. If it isn't inked well the print comes out hazy. If it is over inked it comes out thick and blotchy.

Step 5: Line up block and paper on press. This takes a lot of practice and patience. The grid beneath the block helps but since the paper has to be placed on top of the block, not below on the grid there is a certain amount of error that can occur in the process.

Step 6: Roll block and paper through press. Once the block and paper are aligned, blankets are rolled out over them to protect them from the pressure of the printing press. The block is then rolled through the press.

Step 7: Remove paper from the press. Steady hands needed here. The paper is slowly peeled from the block to remove smudging or tearing.

Step 8: Admire the end result.

Rachel HopkinsComment