Printmaking techniques

I mainly use Japanese Woodcut (Moku Hanga) and Reduction Linocut methods in my printmaking, but my work includes monoprints and screen prints.

Japanese Woodblock - Moku Hanga technique

Japanese Woodblock - Moku Hanga technique

Japanese WoodBlock - also known as Moku Hanga

The photo on the left shows the equipment I used for the woodblock print Harriet, and you can see part of the finished work at the top of the photo.  

I draw on and handcarve between three and five separate sheets of Asian plywood ( 1 ).  I use specialist Japanese Moku Hanga carving tools (2) which have been forged with high quality hard and soft steels together.   Each of the hand carved wooden blocks is handpainted with a mixture of watercolour paint (3) and rice paste (4). The rice paste ensures a uniform application of the pigment to the block and paper. I use  Surikomi Bake brushes (5) with flexible bristles. Then I carefully register the printing paper  using the Kento marks (6) on my block and use the baren (7) to rub the back of the paper to transfer the pigment into the printing paper.  The variety of colours is achieved by the layers of different colours on top of each other.  I  usually use Japanese papers because they are fine and strong. 

This is the most time consuming printmaking method I use and each picture takes about forty hours of labour;  but I find something deeply fulfilling about working with the wood, watercolours and paper.

I do editions of about 12.  Some of my works indicate that there is an edition of 60,  that was to give me that option for the future. I actually printed about 8.

Printing Press for Linocut Printing

Printing Press for Linocut Printing

Linocut Printing

I use my printing press for Linocuts. It was made by an ex-mining engineer in Durham. 

 I often use the reduction technique.  I draw on  a block of lino using a Sharpie pen because it is waterproof and the design will withstand washing between imprints,  showing me where to carve next. I carve the block using linocutting tools. I use a roller to roll out water based inks ( to be environmentally friendly) on a tile and having mixed the colour I want,  roll the ink onto the lino and carefully place the block c face down on the paper,  as in the photo.  I use a variety of specialist printmaking papers including Fabriano,  Arches Rives BFK and Japanese papers. 

I then clean  the lino, cut away more of it and then re ink it with another colour. I print again on top of the previous image. Each time the lino is cleaned and more cut away, the area available for inking is reduced, hence the name Reduction Linocut. Sometimes I use two or more blocks,  and maybe incorporate a stencil e.g. paper,  fibre. The challenge is working out how the blocks are going to interact with each other,  both in terms of colour and composition.

I can be more playful with the linocut technique as it is quicker and I can redo a block reasonably quickly if necessary. This is how I create a series of one off prints e.g. Goats.

Occasionally I  incorporate Chine Colle,  where I collage other papers into the composition and print on top of them aswell. The ink looks different depending on the background paper.