Tag Archives: block carving

White line woodblock

Another new technique for me. I went to a one day workshop at Ardington School of Craft run by Beth Jenkins on the American technique of white line woodblock printing. It was intended to be a simplified form of Japanese woodblock, requiring just one block for the whole image, using watercolour and gouache as the print medium. It is really also closely related to mosaic and stained glass techniques.

Each area of colour is outlined by a gouged groove, the white lines, and then the area flooded with watercolour and the image transferred to thin paper by hand burnishing. Only a small area can be done at one time, so the paper and block need to be kept in register the whole time. Only one print at a time can be produced, and all will be different in colour. You can have indefinite print runs.

My first block, based on a photo I took off razor bills at St Abbs Head. The block itself is beautiful at the end.

I’m working on a second print in my studio. A roosting kittiwake I sketched at Dunbar. Still working out the best colour scheme.

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Lino printing with a pressĀ 

I bought myself a small, manual press, which works surprisingly well. 

Basically, it is a lever press which about doubles your force. I use a bit of felt on top of the paper. I might try just turning it all over as the base is a dense foam. 

I’ve been working up another two colour print based on one of my favourite life sketches, my Neuroscientist. 


I took the easy approach. Photographed the drawing and traced it directly off the tablet screen at the block size. As a neat, simple outline, I think she looks good. 


Then another tracing, coloured up to show a white body on a black background. I thought the seat was far too prominent so had another go. Tracing paper is wonderful stuff. 


The balance between body and chair is better. As I did the body on one sheet of tracing and the coloured chair on another, it was easy to try out a black body on a white background. 


I went for this. It really emphasises the slanting composition. 


The block had to be carved in reverse, which tracing paper excels at. I used a proper transfer paper between the tracing and the block, which worked beautifully. Before I carved the body block, I decided to cut it down to square. This removes most of her face, which wasn’t working out well and would be hard to cut in lino. I think the balance works better as well. 


The first print from the press. Far better than I was getting by rubbing the back with a spoon. I really liked the look of this and wished I hadn’t bothered with the second colour. The line work has stayed clear. 


The whole printing area after I had pulled three prints. 


Second colour added, which looks good, although the registration is not great. I still think pure black would have been better. 


Mother and daughter, if that’s the appropriate expression.