Block printing is an interface of design in two dimensions and an understanding of the working characteristics of wood. Printing using a carved block gives and image a unity that would be unattainable using ink and a brush or pen alone. It also allows for the production of multiple copies of an image, often limited to some number like 25 or 100. This process of creating editions can lend value to the work and a sense of owning something rare and exclusive for the person who ends up with a print.
I printed this image on Pescia 120 lb cotton paper 6 times. This is a small edition and was primarily an experiment and practice run. I've only printed a few editions using the wood-cut technique, but I'm fond of how fast an image can be produced while still having the qualities of fine hand made art that is lacking in something like a Giclee print. The ink used in this process is viscous and almost sits on the surface of the print, giving it a tactile quality lacking in electronically printed images. The end result can vary widely depending on the type of paper used (thin Japanese rice paper vs. heavy cotton) as well as the type of wood used (cherry with its fine grain or walnut with its open, coarse, pore distribution). I am seeing more and more how important pressure is in the printing process as well. Each print of this edition showed variation depending on the direction of the pressure applied and how much force I used. The paper is rubbed on the back to transfer the ink from the wood block to the paper surface. This can be done with a wooden spoon or similar object or the preferred tool known as a barren.
Overall this is a very satisfying process. I'm considering framing all six prints together, they are about 6 x 7 inches each.
J0hn Hunter Speier
Recent work, and explorations of techniques, aesthetics and poetics.