I bought a piece of Japanese plywood with the aim of experimenting with woodcut printing. I only bought a smallish piece, just larger than A2 to practice with but have not done anything with it so far. It has a very smooth surface and is recommended as a starter block for beginners. (Probably because it is cheap!)
Having got a little fatigued with designing the circus poster I wrote about recently, I decided to ‘rest’ a little by doing a little woodcutting. What started off as a little trial ended up being much more complicated as usual. A very wordy typographic piece actually. Why can’t I be fixated upon amoeba or something similarly simple instead of letterforms?
I have a whole file of quotes, quips, excerpts and bon mots, usually about design, typography, creativity and the like, and after an initial rummage I came across a wonderful statement by Beatrice Warde, an American typographer and academic originally typeset and printed in 1932 as a stand against the new modernist typographical styles and in defence of the power of printing. I immediately decided to use a non-classical font, something a bit more playful and unrestrained. The original was set in Eric Gill’s splendid Perpetua and is a fine example of what was considered as classical, civilised, refined and legible at the time. I even considered Comic Sans for a while, but decided that I couldn’t face it!
After a dig around some old font discs I came upon some 1960’s inspired stuff with all kinds of swashed pairs included. It seemed relatively simple too – no fine serifs and plenty of variations in line width etc.
A little while in Illustrator to get everything just right…
Followed by a trace using carbon paper…
Leaving a reversed line version on the wood.
The entire piece was cut using 10A scalpels. I used almost 5 packs in total!
Each letter was traced and the inner parts were removed by ‘digging’ out with either the scalpel or an awl.
This is the point where I had one more letter to cut. The jar contains all my used blades…
And here is the finished block. Well, I say finished, but there are a few little nicks that need filling before I go to print. Also, I’ve just noticed that I missed the leg of the R at the beginning (right hand side) of the third line down. I’ll do that too.
And finally, a shot of the block with a penny to show scale. Printing tomorrow!