Wooden Printing Press
link to time lapse video of Time Lapse Building a Wooden Etching Press
Recently I undertook a project to manufacture an etching press. I started it for the challenge but also so as to experiment with wood block printing, to engage a method of branding and in it I hope to influence my furniture designing and I’m sure it will make an appearance in the manufacturing side of things too. I built the frame from Jarrah for its strength, affordability and dark colour, which I hope will darken over time. I certainly enjoyed the process of assembly and am happy to have finished this project, which now will only continue on into other processes as I utilise it as a tool.
This project reminded me constantly of feelings that I had when building a woodworking bench in my degree at the ANU Art School and how buy building a tool such as these you become aware of the amounts effort that have gone into the product and as a result guarantee the care and correct use of the piece of equipment.
I sourced the rollers from MES Presses, Melbourne, who were an enormous assistance and offered feedback on my design to ensure that the final result would function beautifully as well as tailoring rollers to suite a thicker (wooden) frame. So thanks to both Dolly and Michael from MES Presses.
“Printmaking is an art-form with a long history that includes a variety of ways a print can be made. One popular technique is relief print making using a wood block. Wood block prints have a unique character impossible to recreate with other techniques.
As you probably guessed, the block print process uses a block of wood. The block is carved and then covered with ink using a brayer in order to create an impression. Wood Block is so unique because the wood itself has the uncanny ability to take on a life of its own. The type of wood that is chosen to make a block can really affect the type of print it creates. A hard block will offer sharp lines and an overall cleaner look but requires a fair amount of strength to cut. A softer block is quite easy to cut, but because of that, fine details can be easily lost. Regardless of what type of wood you decide to use as your block, it is crucial to have a flat block free of any warps or bends and sharpened chisels. Though sharpening can be boring and tedious, dull tools will ruin your block due to their unpredictability while cutting. Just like it is important in drawing to keep your lines all moving in the same direction along the object, in wood block the same rule applies to your chisel marks. If you move slow and keep a steady hand, it is easier to create a block to be proud of.
The technique of wood block printing requires a great deal of work and preparation. Due to its hands on style, wood block has a character unmatched by any other relief printing technique. In the tech-heavy world we live in, it is sometimes nice to get your hands dirty”.