October 15, 2015

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


At this stage cut a cardboard mask of the size of the print including margins. Place it on sized printing paper (the process of sizing is explained subsequently) and cut around it to secure printing sheets of the correct size. Cut sheets of newspaper an inch or more larger all round than the printing sheets, and brush water evenly over them. Place alternate sheets of newsprint and printing paper on a board and cover with another. After half an hour remove newsprint except the sheets at the top and bottom of the pile. In perhaps an hour the printing sheets will be damped consistently and ready for printing. Use a black pigment for printing. Lamp-black ground in water, or in gum water, will do. Brush it over the block, and add a little paste —very little. There must be no superfluous paint or paste between lines or anywhere else. The pigment on the block should be damp but not wet. Apply a sheet of printing paper —the right-hand bottom corner fitting the right angle, and the bottom edge the cut line in the left-hand corner. Rub lightly with the printing pad over a protecting sheet of butter paper.

While the sheet is still damp —providing no corrections are needed —paste face down upon another block.

Paper expands in varying degrees when damped, and for this reason the last caution needs emphasis. Never paste down a dry key impression: if you do, the shock will come when all the engraving and printing is done. The offending color may be a quarter of an inch short of requirements, and a hiatus of that dimension in an otherwise perfect correlation is quite annoying. It is well therefore to have a new block freshly covered with paste ready to take the impression immediately it is pulled. Or if a number of impressions are dealt with keep them between damp sheets.

It is sometimes necessary to allow the impression to dry in order to draw color shapes upon it which have not been outlined on the key block. In this case be sure when pasting down that the paper is of the same degree of humidity as when it was printed.

Care must be taken to cut away sufficient wood between the edge of the design and the edge of the block to ensure that the margin of the print shall be safe from paint smudges.

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