Saturday 28 January 2012

Going Back in Time

Today I had a very enjoyable and unusual day of printing at Hot Bed Press in Salford. Instead of printing my own lino work, I spent the day experimenting and printing from stunning, very old woodblocks, on behalf of their owner.

 The first block is a delicate wood engraving of an orchid, which I printed on a range of papers as well as mountboard card, using the Albion press and the lightest covering of ink to bring out the texture and detail. You can see below the press, the block and one of the printed image.

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!

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