Woodcut Printing.

For the last four Wednesdays I have been taking part in a Woodcut Printing Class at The Hotbed Press in Salford/Manchester. Our lovely course tutor was Oliver Flude who has a website here-

Oliver inspired us by his skill and enthusiasm for his craft and showed us some of his own prints together with the blocks he had used.

Previously I have tried my hand at wood engraving where the image is engraved onto the end grain of a piece of hardwood. In woodcut printing the long-grain is used, this is very different and has a charm all of its own. Unlike wood engraving, this method of printing is capable of showing some of the character of the wood. The wood is softer and the grain more a feature in the final print.

Over the course we had four three-hour sessions, to learn the basics. All our efforts had to be concentrated into creating an image in a short space of time. This meant that a bold, energetic and free style took over from my usual tightly controlled style. This was both liberating and scary in equal measures.

We had the luxury of printing on a beautiful old Columbian Press, the hours flew by and everyone had an enjoyable and productive time.

In the first week we got to try out various tools and learn the kind of marks they made. The wood we used was a Japanese plywood which was easy to cut into along the grain, not so easy cross grain. We all managed to produce a one colour print- here is my first effort.

In week two we introduced colour, using a reduction technique. My print was a disaster and went into the bin. However, they say you learn by your mistakes.

On the third week we used a combination of techniques including paper stencils.

On the final week we pulled everything together and produced our final images.
My penguin was a reduction print using a gradation of blue into white and then a second printing of black on top.(see top).

At the end of four weeks we were all sad to say farewell, everyone enjoyed taking part and I think we will all use our newfound skills in the future.

If anyone is interested I have put some of my prints in my Etsy shop- https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/acornmoon


  1. You did a great job Valerie, sometimes these classes are so hard when you have to think on your feet so to speak, it takes me so long to take techniques in too? I love the whale and working in wood with the grain looks wonderful. So many things to try, sigh.... :)

  2. I'm really fond of your penguin, but that whale print in particular is just gorgeous.

    My dad made a lot of woodcut prints. I think he must have loved the process.

  3. its amazing to think that some of the most intricate cuts of days of yore were made with wood! Your penguin really reflects the feel of ice. And that whale? So evocative of the sea...By Joe I think you've got it!
    The printing press reminds me of my great grandmothers sewing machine.
    They sure don't make them like they use to!

  4. They are wonderful and you should be very proud of them. I love the penguin!

  5. Love these, and what a fabulous press. I just can't decide if I like the penguin or whale best!

  6. What wonderful results!
    How exciting to study a new technique.
    I made wood block prints almost 40 years ago. I remember I had to buy tools from a very grumpy old man whose workshop was in Bleeding Heart Yard somewhere in the city.
    I bought some new tools in Florence some years ago - and they were stolen before I had a chance to use them.

  7. My friend is a great admirer of Tunnicliffe Valerie. I am going to send him details of your Etsy site.

  8. Oh Val, these prints turned out so well. I'd say you had a fine teacher and that your teacher had a very fine pupil.

    How I do wish that you and I could visit the current Gauguin print show at MoMA together. I know you'd love seeing all the various prints from the same woodblocks and actually having those woodblocks nearby for extra reference.

    (I may actually have to spring for the exhibition catalogue.)


  9. I attempted the engraving of a wooden sign once and said "Never Again!" Maybe I would have been more pleased had I an excellent teacher as you did.Your penguin is a charming fellow and I think you have a knack for this art form. Oh, and Congrats on the wee new babe in the family, lucky you!

  10. wonderful stuff! I tried it once but I found it hurt my hand holding the tool and the pressure needed. Well done and it's good to free up sometimes too!

  11. What a fabulous course ... I'm quite envious. I'll be interested to see your further woodcut explorations. And more prints like the whale please :)