Contact James Hill for Email press here     

St Barnabas Press Coldhams Road Cambridge CB13EW Telephone +44(0)1223 413792 Mobile +44(0)7703442646        

Relief printmaking

A centuries-old technique, relief printmaking can be used very effectively for both traditional and contemporary work. The print is taken from the surface of a plate or block after removing those areas which are not supposed to make a mark. The material is cut away by hand, which some find particularly satisfying, much like wood carving, and the remaining raised surface is rolled with ink which is transferred onto the paper under pressure, reversing the original design. Many materials can be used as in the simple potato print but the most common are the lino-cut and wood block. Lino is often easier to cut than wood but does not last as long. Some printmakers prefer the harder wood and specifically incorporate the texture of the wood grain in their work while for others MDF is becoming very popular, being grain-free and easy to work.

This process is suitable for simple, effective monochrome designs in black and white or a single colour on a contrasting paper colour. Areas of different colours can also be painted onto the block and printed simultaneously as in Chinese and Japanese art while more complex images can be produced by printing successive layers of colour. This is achieved by either by the multi-block method, using different blocks cut for each colour or by the reduction method where a single block is cut away further after each colour has been printed, with exciting results.

Oil-based inks can be used to great effect when building up colours in the reduction method but water-based inks are more suited where a translucent effect is required and are often applied by brush onto the block.

Prints can be taken from the inked surface with a printing press or by hand rubbing on the back of thin paper with a baren (a specially made tool, or the back of a spoon, so it is not always necessary to have elaborate or expensive equipment for this method of printmaking.

Care must be taken when cutting the block with a sharp tool but even the beginner can quickly achieve a very satisfying result.


Chinese Woodblock Printing

Our visiting wood block artist will be teaching an exciting course working with movement from life. Drawing in charcoal or Chinese brush from a life dancer and transferring onto wood, you will be cutting your blocks with specialist wood cutting knives, printing by hand or using a press with oil based inks, this course is suitable for beginners and experienced printmakers but some drawing skills are essential.

The aim of this course is to learn as much about Chinese woodblock printing in three days. Woodblock printing has a long history in China and here at St Barnabas Press we have been lucky to have many visiting artist from China all with very different techniques of woodblock printing ranging from the traditional to the more contemporary.

Materials used on this course;

Birch woodblock,

Chinese ink (for drawing image onto wood),

Specialist cutting knives,

Oil based inks,

Relief Press,

Baren (for hand printing),

Chinese papers (for final your print).

Fundamental woodblock  methods  covered    

Preparation of wood

Drawing image on wood with Chinese rubbing ink

Registration block

Paper preparation

Glossary of relief Printing;

You will need protective clothing but gloves and other protection provided. Bring sketchbooks, inspiration, pencils any tools relevant to the course.

Back to top

Press for course Press for course