Reduction Block Printing

Ink Printing has always been something that I've been interested in. Lucky for me the art studio down the street was offering a class on Reduction Block printing. It's such a cool process!! In my case, I started with a linoleum mounted (on wood) block, which you can find at most arts and craft stores or online. There are many different materials you can work with though, wood, rubber, linoleum etc.

I'm constantly looking for ways to capture and remember our time living in Raleigh. We have a beautiful view of the city a couple blocks from our house looking over the Boylan Bridge. It's spectacular and I wanted to re-capture it with this technique, here's my version.

Ideally you want to use a printing press, this machine adds about 4,000 pounds of pressure to the paper giving it an even and slightly indented print - Love this! (it's the little things). A lot of times you can find one nearby that is available for public use, check out universities or art centers. There are other methods for hand printing without the machine but this is far superior.

Essentially the process involves carving out the block as you want it to be printed. For example, to start you want to carve out anything that you want to remain white (i.e. blank paper). Once that is carved, you would ink your block with your first, and lightest color. Use the lightest first because all other colors will layer on top and if it's not the lightest, it won't show up on top anything darker. Here is an example of my inked block with yellow, my lightest color. Everything in grey is what I had carved out to be white when printed. The Block is placed ink up, paper on top and then the wheel is rolled over the top.

Next color and carving was the blue and the features I wanted to remain yellow.

At this point, I carved out everything I wanted to remain light blue, and printed the next layer in green. The trick is aligning the block to the paper each time in the exact same spot. I don't think I got even one spot-on, but that's the beauty of original artwork.

The final layer was dark blue. Keep in mind that once you carve out the block, you can't go back and re-print from the beginning. I made 12 of these prints, some of them were not display quality, so you have to account for those too. When printing monotone, you don't have to worry about that, you can print over and over. I've done some of those too, I'll be posting those soon! 

You can use any paper you want, but higher quality is higher quality. In class we even ripped our paper instead of cutting it to give it a handmade feel. I love that. Also, be careful of the carving blades, those suckers are sharp! - I've learned the hard way on that one

I'm happy to answer any questions you have about the process. I've made about every mistake possible in the process so I can tell you about those too! 


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