In any case, the lines on this block were carved very fine to show the delicacy of the lightning, and I even used rough sandpaper on the block to make the black sky a bit less black. All the different carving techniques made for a block that was not so exhibit-ready.
|Background gets walnut stain to darken detail lines|
|Figure gets highlighted with sandpaper|
First step was to strip the old layers of ink with a citrus-based paint stripper. Works quite well and leaves the wood only slightly stained. The stripper is applied, left on for about 30 minutes or longer and then scrapped off with a plastic putty knife so as not to damage the wood. Some old fashioned soap and water follows and the result is a fairly clean block. Most importantly, the carved lines on the figure came up clean.
Still, I was not satisfied with the appearance of the block so I decided to experiment with stains. First I stained the whole block lightly with a walnut stain, resulting in some of the lines accepting stain partially. This gave the lines more depth and still the deeper areas remained clean. I rubbed off some areas more than others until I was happy with the result. I stain with sponge brushes and use old socks for rubbing the stain off.
|Struck, original woodblock selectively stained|
Lastly, a nice coat of satin polyurethane over the entire block to eliminate the shine and protect the stain and the bare birch.