July 27, 2021

Starting a Two Tone Woodblock

By Leon Loughridge
Starting a Two Tone Woodblock

Bishop's Lodge is named after the small chapel that is located on the property. It was built around 1860 by Bishop Lamy and was his retreat from the city of Santa Fe, the newest territory of the United States. Since I am doing an Artist's Residency at the Lodge, I thought I would create a woodblock that guests could print on a small Vandercook #99 press. 


I started with a pencil and watercolor sketch. Normally. my watercolors are pretty loose but knowing that this would turn into a woodblock, I spent time to refine the shapes and edges. I then made a tracing of the sketch on a sheet of tracing paper that had been taped off to the woodblock dimensions.

Once the drawing was transferred onto the block with carbon paper, I refined the drawing with a fine felt tip pen. For the gray block, I defined the edges of the value shapes that will remain after carving. I then shellacked the block to retain my drawing and so the pencil notes would not get smudged. I then carved out the margin making sure that the outer edges of the image area had a nice crisp edge. I have found that a rounded edge will print a soft or blurred edge.   


I use an MDF panel with a cherry veneer. The MDF is easy to carve and the cherry veneer holds fine detail carving. The one problem with the MDF is that it absorbs the water based ink and swells. That area that was low enough to not print will swell enough to start printing. By shellacking the exposed MDF in the carved out areas, the problem is avoided.


The next day's chore was to start the carving on the images and place the registration tabs. With the carving done and a few guests anxious to see the results, I proofed the blocks. There is some clean up needed on the carving but it all lined up.

process woodblocks