My most recent “inner” post was about a new large-format carving I did on MDF. Here’s what happened next:

Carving into MDF isn’t that hard – it cuts smoothly and cleanly. Before printing with it, I suspected I should treat it with something, because it’s porous, like wood (really more like cardboard). I learned from Theresa Haberkorn that the typical treatment for woodcut blocks is Polycrylic protective finish.¬†Since my studio isn’t ventilated, I took the board outside and applied two thin coats with a paintbrush, letting the first one dry for several hours. The board turns shiny, as I expected, as if I had coated a piece of furniture with a finish.

Then I jumped right in with my first print! First, I mixed up and rolled out a bright yellow from Speedball ink:

Then I rolled it onto the MDF block, just around and inside of the hand – I’m thinking that I’ll cut out this large hand, so I don’t need to ink the whole board:

I used a hand-held baron to print the hand onto two pieces of newsprint (taped together – I don’t have paper this size!):

And the final product, which reveals a lot to me – first, it’s inconsistently printed, so I need to pay more attention to that next time – I suspect this is partly because Speedball printmaking ink isn’t the greatest and I should be using something that dries slower. I also noticed some areas that I wanted to carve out a little more, so I did that (and then reapplied Polycrylic).

What a learning process! Sometimes I think my work would move along a little faster if I was in an MFA program, learning from the instructors how to avoid mistakes before I hit them, but I’m also having fun experimenting in the unknown…