John Jānis Šteins

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How is a reduction woodcut print made?

How is a reduction woodcut print made?

A reduction woodcut offers the ability to create a complex multicolour print using only one block. It does require some planning, though. Decide on the design and how many colours you want to use. So, if the image is a landscape, it might require a blue sky over the horizon. In that case, print only the blue ink covering the whole block so that you end up with a solid blue rectangle, square or whatever the shape of your print. Print as many as you need, say twenty or so copies. Then comes the tricky part that you can’t reverse. Go back to the same woodblock and cut away the areas you wish to remain blue. In this case, you might want to cut away everything above the horizon of hills. Let’s say, to preserve the blue sky but allow overprinting the bottom with a hill shape. Now ink up the block with a darker colour and print over the blue sky colour. The resulting print should show blue where you cut away and the darker colour of the hill shapes you left intact. You will continue this way, gradually cutting away elements of the image you want to preserve with different colours, overprinting and overprinting until there is almost nothing left of the block. But you should have twenty lovely multicoloured prints on your drying rack. Of course, registering the print so that all the overprinting of colours lines up is another whole topic. There are a number of methods to address this problem.

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