October 15, 2015

Chapter Two – Cutting [The Technique of the Color Woodcut]


Wood must be planed first and then scraped. For the latter purpose try discarded safety razor blades. One scraping is not sufficient. Dampen the wood and loose fibre ends will appear: these must be shaved away. Prepare both sides.

Risk of warping is diminished by clamping the ends, as in the diagram.

If possible the wood surface should admit of at least an inch margin around the design, for a purpose which will be explained hereafter.


Make some starch, rice, or flour paste, and brush it over the block evenly more than once. Do not hurry over it. Recover your tracing, which will be damp enough by now, and lay it face up on your drawing board. Take up the block in your hands and lay it, pasted surface down, upon the tracing. Smooth out the creases if there are any, but carefully, because some papers will stretch very easily.

Now you have the tracing reversed, on the wood, and when dry it is ready to cut.


Linoleum is used as a substitute for wood, but the word is often anathema to the serious engraver, who regards it justly as lacking in character and vitality.

Mr. Giles has perfected a method of surface printing from metal plates, which is capable of great refinement and beauty.

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