Wood engraving is a relief printing medium executed on the end grain of a hard closely grained wood, usually boxwood. With graver, spitsticker and scorper, white lines are engraved into the blackened surface of the uncut block, bringing light and texture of great richness and variety to the design drawn on it. Although lino cuts and wood engravings share the same graphic approach, each medium produces its own inimitable result. Wood engraving can express the finest detail and the greater variety of texture on a smaller scale. It is essentially a drawing based discipline, and is the foundation of this art form.
During the course you will learn how to identify the various tools and materials for your wood engraving and appreciate their purpose; learn how to transfer a drawing onto the end grain block; carry out cutting exercises with the various tools on a sampler block; engrave your prepared drawing onto an end grain block and refine your design; take a print from your block using the burnishing technique; take a print from the block using the Albion press; evaluate and reflect on the whole process. In order to make the most of your valuable course time, it's important to start preparing your drawings and reference material in advance, even if your idea is not fully formed.
You will be working on engraving blocks measuring 10cm x 7.5cm (roughly 3" x 4"). This is a good size to tackle on this short course and you should end up with a fully finished wood engraving at the end of the course. Choose a subject that interests you and bring drawings, photographs as reference material. The drawings need not be reduced to size right away, but it would help if you designed the image according to the proportions of the block size. Images can be reduced on the photocopier. Bear in mind that wood engraving is an unforgiving medium in that mistakes can't be corrected, so the more preparation given to the preliminary drawing the better. Do remember that engraving works from black to white, so that whatever you don't engrave will remain black. It's the opposite of the drawing process. No previous experience of wood engraving is required.
You will print the finished blocks using the presses at the College, as well as a simple and effective method of printing with a burnisher. You will take with you any experiments, revised designs, engraved block(s) and prints.
Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above
Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.
6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).
8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.
Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.
From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).
Evening working - students may have access to workshops, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.
Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.
Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.
(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)
Chris studied Fine Art and English Literature at Newcastle University. He has taught extensively in the UK, as well as Poland and the USA. He was an illustrator for many years and produced work for the BBC, Folio Society and Shell, and for several private presses. Chris is an elected member of The Society of Wood Engravers and is one of the few makers of engraving blocks in the world. His recent work has focused on the rare practice of colour wood engraving.