Your First Woodblock Print

Woodblock printmaking is an extremely easy and 'low-tech' process. Although you may not believe that statement after browsing in other parts of this Encyclopedia and seeing the multitude of pages describing intricate details of printmaking, please remember that those details are just that - details. The fundamentals are simplicity itself:

  • a piece of wood
  • a knife
  • some pigment
  • a piece of paper

No wonder that woodblock is the oldest of the printmaking processes! It is hard to imagine how anything could be easier.

But for the beginner, "Where to start?" is a rather large question. Traditional books on printmaking would have you believe that you need a full selection of special carving tools, brushes and other printing equipment; in order to outfit yourself 'properly' you need a considerably investment of money ... don't you?

Don't believe a word of it. You need no 'special' tools to get started. Of course professional printmakers use professional tools ... but for your first few prints, you will be able to obtain very satisfying results using pretty much nothing but what you can scrounge up in your kitchen, basement, or garage ...

You don't believe me? Take a look at this little 'first' print, made by a 'student' of mine a few years ago. (I use the word 'student' loosely ... he was simply an acquaintance who visited here a couple of times to get some advice ...)

(click the image to pop-up a full-size enlargment - 62K)

Pretty? It looks ok, I think ... Would you like to make one like this? Let's try together! On the following pages you will find a step-by-step description of the making of this simple woodblock print. You can either simply follow the instructions and re-create the same print, or you can follow along in a more 'general' manner and make your own original ...

I should warn you - although you won't need a large investment in tools, money, etc., you will need a bit of investment in time. I think that somewhere around 10~20 hours should do it, spread out over as long a period as you like ...

So take a look over the process as it is described in the following pages, then gather together the few tools and materials you will need, and get started. Please join us - become a chromoxylographer! Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back! ;-)

Proceed to the first step ...