Sometimes I find myself in the position of explaining what printmaking is to someone who’s never heard of it – this is actually fun!

A super basic definition of “printmaking” is something like this: the art of creating an image (through carving or impression or other) on a firm block (such as wood, linoleum, or rubber), applying ink to the block, and then transferring that ink to paper to make a print of the image.

For the block material, I use either MDF (medium density fiberboard – it’s like wood, but much cheaper – but also less durable), wood, or rubber (sometimes called “speedycut”).

First, I draw an image, or I’ll alter a photo that I’ve taken. Lately, I have been doing pieces that are simple and small, so that I can focus less on drawing and more on carving and choosing layers to print.

Then I transfer the image to the board I’m going to cut. Sometime I have to think about whether I’m going to use two colors, and transfer one part of the image to one board, and the other part of the image to a different board.

For this print, I drew a Yucca plant seed pod that I picked from a trail near our house.

To carve the board, I use special carving tools. I recently got this cool set from Flexcut! The tool handle tucks right into my palm, so it’s easy to hold and control. Each tool provides different line thickness.

I carved the first block and printed it.

Then I decided that I could add another color to this image (usually you figure this out first!), so I found another block that would fit and carved out the background color. The block on the right is the background color – ink will only appear where the white spots are in the image above.

It takes a bit of mental calculation to make sure you carve out the right spots on each block. And you’re looking at the image in reverse!

Final outcome – small and fun to do!

Please comment (to the left), subscribe (below), and share this page with friends…