Woodcut prints – exploring the process with Rod Nelson

Ref: SLW09046

Suitable for all

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About this course

Experiment with this ancient art form as you explore woodcut printing techniques using the wood itself as a starting point. Use a variety of woods and papers, experiment with cutting techniques and print with presses or by hand.

Course Description

Understand the techniques and processes of woodcut printing and gain the confidence to explore the potential of this art form. This course introduces you to the basic concepts of relief printmaking using wood, it will familiarise you with the tools and materials involved and help you to create successful black and white woodcuts by hand and with a press.

On the first evening you look at examples of successful woodblock prints. Fundamentals of relief printmaking are discussed and the safe use of tools. Students then cut and print a small block.

On this course you:

Learn how to use the tools and materials for woodcut prints in a free, purposeful manner.

Learn how to keep tools sharp.

Develop your artistic vocabulary.

Experience confidence in making woodcut prints.

Explore a range of different woods and papers.

Experiment with cutting techniques.

We begin by making a test block of marks to help you build a visual vocabulary that will underpin your explorations. From these marks you start with an initial concept - you may wish to bring in drawings, photos or other source materials, or you can work directly from the environment at West Dean. You then continue to work the block through to the finished print.

Rod will demonstrate techniques and processes throughout the course which you can apply within your own practice.

By the time you leave you will have the skills to cut a block with a degree of artistic control in black and white, choose suitable blocks and paper, and to make satisfying prints at home. You will take home a series of finished black and white prints with your blocks.


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.

Daily timetable

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.

Last day

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)

Course Materials


  • The cost of providing inks, wood and paper, some papers provided by the tutor, with a variety of other woods and fine papers also available to purchase.

What students need to bring

  • Rubber gloves
  • Apron or overalls

Available to buy

  • Thick black ink felt pen
  • Papers suitable for printmaking
  • Sketch pad, A4 or larger
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Chalk


Rod Nelson

Rod is a self-taught woodblock printmaker and has exhibited work in the UK, Germany and China. His mastery of technical skills has developed from many years working as a professional woodworker. He is co-author (with Merlyn Chesterman) of the book 'Making Woodblock Prints' and has enjoyed teaching for many years at West Dean and elsewhere.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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