Updated: Mar 11
In this post, I will share my personal journey to develop my own system to arrive at the final perfect woodcut print.
It took four years.
✵✶✺Study and Research ✵✶✺
How long does one print take? Sometimes a few months, and often more than a year.
In 2019, I realised my printmaking skills were lacking. However, I couldn’t find a local community that would help me improve.
I did what I always do. I cleaned out all relevant materials from the local university library system and began to read every single book cover to cover. It took me about six months to go through the mountain of books. At the end of all those books, I felt like my patchy knowledge of woodcuts had been greatly improved.
Among much basic knowledge that would be second nature to trained printmakers, it never occurred to me that making a test print is an essential step to achieving a satisfactory final print.
So what are the nine steps to creating a woodcut print from start to finish?
✵✶✺Nine Steps to A Perfect Woodcut Print ✵✶✺
I am sharing my journey of testprinting my woodcuts. Here are the steps to arrive at the final perfect woodcut print.
1. Design composition
2. Carve woodblock
3. Make a first test print
4. If there is anything wrong, then fix the woodblock
5. Make another test print
6. If there is still something wrong, then fix the woodblock again
7. Make another test print
8. The cycle continues until the test print is satisfactory
9. Time to make the entire edition of final prints
That sounds intense but straightforward. You may ask, what could go wrong?
Checking test prints with David, master printer from Marble Print & Clay.
✵✶✺Murphy’s Law in Printmaking✵✶✺
Sometimes the colour looks great on the colour chart but doesn’t work with the image. Maybe the colour is so light that the details do not show up. Maybe the colour is too vibrant or too dull. Since the artist can only make an educated guess as to the final print result, often she finds that the lines are too faint (easy to fix) or too thick (artist cries because there is no way to fix.) Since I carved a lot of text, I would sometimes go crazy realizing the text was carved incorrectly.
I finished my first 20 woodcuts in 2018-2019. Upon my return from my Firstdraft exhibition in summer 2019, I began carving my 21st one. Over the next two years, I carved 22 more, going back and forth testing colours, fixing woodblocks and working with Marble Print & Clay master printer on the final prints.
Love what you are seeing? I am going to launch "The Animal Collection" of Polluta Propaganda Woodcuts on 30 March. Get my love notes for an exclusive launch special, reserved only for my most loyal fans!
Plus, I give away a piece of art with every love note I send out. Yes, you heard me right. That's over 25 pieces of art every year! Only to my most loyal fans. Get it now!