detail of fish wood cut by H. Kurzke
detail of fish wood cut

Last Sunday I had the pleasure to experiment a little with print in my studio. I waited this long with this blog post, so that I can show you the finished print – and it took this long to dry. It is my first wood-reduction print, and my second trial with wood. To give you an idea of scale: the fish in the print measures about 12cm vom head to tail.

These prints are also called suicide prints, because after printing one colour you have to sacrifice your plate to print the next stage. So here’s the story of this print in stages. At first I just printed a whole block of wood that our builders left me. The scan below is from one of the text prints, I added more extender for the actual prints, rendering this background pattern more subtle.

print by H. Kurzke
1st stage of my 4 stage wood print

I was going to keep printing with this block, but then gave it up for several reasons. The most important: It split down the middle (you can actually see this in the prints) and cutting it would have been very hard. And let’s not forget, this is my second ever wood cut, and the first reduction cut in a long, long time for me.
So I got myself a new piece of wood and cut – who would have thought otherwise – a fish into it. For the first layer I essentially just cut the outline to give it a base colour. This is a scan showing just the 2nd stage without the first one:

woodcut by H. Kurzke, just the 2nd stage
Only the 2nd stage of my fish woodcut

In the next step I added most of the details:

unfinished fish woodcut by H. Kurzke
fish woodcut only the 2nd and 3rd stage together

And in the last step then all that is left is essentially the outline and the emphasis on a few spots. Here’s a scan of just the 2nd and 4th stage together:

Well, and you can see how all 4th stages come together in the final print on top. I don’t quite know what to think of the finished print. I am rather proud of it to some extent: It is the first reduction print where I think I managed the stages correct (meaning it roughly resulted in what I had in mind). It is also my second wood cut, and I feel like I am getting a bit better at judging what’s possible and what is not. I imagined to be able to do really detailed stuff with it. And with the right wood it should be. But this is cheap timber: The piece of wood into which I cut the fish once was a broken piece from a bed frame. It wobbled while printing, and I am not entirely sure whether the unevenness built up during printing, which would mean that even though I used oil based ink it led to some swell in the wool. I think it probably never was completely flat. Anyway, the spent piece of wood is now resting on a shelf in my studio as a relic that – at least I think so – fits in quite well:

relics and finds in Kurzke's studio
a shelf in my studio

And while working with wood was good fun, it was strenuous on the hands; both while cutting and printing. So while churning out my prints,  I had the idea to try a new technique which is really fast and fun to make, because you print with polymer clay without baking it. And also takes next to no pressure to make. Again – of course – I made a fish:

Notice the white halo around the fish. Its thickness depends on the thickness of the clay layer which I am printing. For this fish it was almost a millimeter thick. If it was significantly thicker, no noise outside would be visible on the paper (I suppose), and if it is thinner (which I tried) you can get the halo to almost completely vanish (especially with slowy tapered thickness). I think there’s a lot of potential there. And I am looking forward to exploring this further. Since the shape of the plate changes with each print, each copy is somewhere between a monoprint and a monotype.

polymer block created by H. Kurzke
block and prints

4 replies on “Printmaking Sunday”

    1. Danke fuer den Link – und meine Entschuldigung, dass es so lange dauert bis ich antworte! Den ARtikel muss ich gleich mal in der Community teilen. 🙂

  1. Nice reduction woodcut, especially since you were using crappy materials! (And yes, it is hard on the hands!) I think the polymer clay has a lot of potential and look forward to seeing your next one. ; ]

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