Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Beautiful cherrywood blocks

Why cherry?

Often I get asked why I insist on using cherry wood. My answer is usually that it is the traditional Japanese wood for producing woodblocks for centuries. But the "real" answer is, I like it! 
Not the easiest wood to carve, most wood carvers invariably point out that basswood is softer and easier to work with. If I wanted "easy" I would have gone into selling women's shoes! No, cherry is the wood for me. Amazing grain, amazing variety, every piece in my stash already has a beautiful image in mind, just waiting for me to find it and carve it. 

Cherry is hard, but the grain is tight and allows infinite detail. Tools have to be sharp for sure and wrists and hands will hurt. But it will yield 200, 300 prints if I wanted to, registers beautifully without expanding or contracting and makes beautiful prints. 

Finishing the blocks

The greatest gift is after the print run is done. A cherry block begs to be carved again into a relief carving, which is precisely what I have been doing with my original blocks. Lately, I carve deeper in relief and stain to match the print that the block worked so hard to produce. 

Once carved, I gather the original print if it was a color print and set by the block. Then I use standard stains and some non-standard stain and raw pigment mixes to approximate the color. I apply with brushes and keep rags handy to lighten some areas. Letting the stain into the recesses produces a darker finish, while wiping quickly after applying makes nice highlights and variations in color. 

Soon after all the color stains are applied, I give it a coat of satin polyurethane finish. In some cases I have been using flat polyurethane finish (In the Shallows, below) which allows for the wood to be protected without too much shine. The poly layer also blends the not quite dry stains so that the whole image has the feel of a painting. 


My block collection grows! Here are the latest, some stained some au naturel. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. For a peeksy at all my available original blocks, go here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/1000woodcuts?section_id=17653011

Angry Skies, still drying!

Angry Skies detail

Angry Skies detail
In the Shallows, relief carving

Hija del Sol

Hija del Sol detail

Hija del Sol detail

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