The second block is a coppered textile woodblock of a bull, almost certainly the trademark stamp of a former Manchester cotton trader. This block would have had a handle on the back and would have been stamped onto cotton by hand. I used a spare pillowcase to get an impression of the image and to trial a mixture of acrylic paint and textile medium, normally used in textile screenprinting. I applied this using a roller and pressed the large woodblock onto the fabric, which I had pinned onto a textile mat to provide extra give. This worked fairly well, but I’m planning to experiment further in terms of ink, pressure levels and material – probably giving calico a try next time. The effect was good all the same and it was marvellous to see this very old woodblock share its image of a bull in chains again after what must be many years.
I will be returning to this project in the next few weeks and will be investigating further ways to enhance the printed images, including hand finishing the wood engraving with a subtle watercolour wash. A very interesting day!