Judith Hilmer Connelly
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The Basics of Block Printing

In traditional printing, a design must be broken down into its simplest color elements. A color plate (or block) is carved to represent each color phase. Profusion, the print of the hollyhocks, is created with the four linoleum blocks I have with me in this photo.

When inked with its assigned color, each of these blocks contributes an individual pattern to the whole. Color by color, this is how that works.

Note that the impression is a mirror of the carving.
Judith Hilmer

Carved Red
Carved Green Rock
Carved red block
>>> Impression   Carved green block >>> Impression
Carved Blue
  Carved Detail
Carved blue block >>> Impression   Carved "detail" block >>> Impression

As each block is inked, aligned correctly and printed
along with the others, the complete picture appears.
Inking the blue plate
1. Ink is rolled out on a glass plate to achieve a thin application and transferred to the carved block with a brayer (roller.) 2. The block is then snugged into the right angle of a simple printing jig. 3. A paper guide (I am using masking tape here) tells me exactly where to place each sheet of paper. This process is called registration.
4. Using a baren (a wooden spoon works too) I firmly press the paper down into the inked surface of the block. 5. The inked impression is checked then peeled off the block. 6. The result is a consistent impression
that can be combined with the others.

The above elements are necessary to the printing process.. but for me the fun begins when I get off the traditional path. Each print becomes a fresh experiment. Though there are only four blocks from which to print, I normally process each print with a dozen or more “inkings”. I can use completely different colors, or ink only a part of the plate, or wipe some of the ink off, or spray the block, or brush the ink on, or only partially mix several shades of ink, or… or… or…

The process is unlimited and the color surprises that await are so alluring. My prints turn out to be more like a painting with many layers of spontaneous color. I greatly enjoy this process, and appreciate your interest in my work.

Biography | Contact | Workshops/Exhibits | Block Print Gallery | Block Print Technique | Watercolor | Oil

Original photos and text are Copyright © 2000-2014 Judith Hilmer. All art work remains the property of the original artist. All Rights Reserved.
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