Skip to content

Wood Block Art Form

Historically it may be a thing of the past but reality tells me that nothing truly replaces the imprint qualities wood block brinks to ink and paper. A phase in my workbench efforts next is to develop my drawings into woodblock printing for the press. Time always seems to be running out these days but staring into the face of the blocks has left me with renewed energy and this art form is indeed truly unique. That’s wood again – what it does to me!

Lines, shades, shadows and contrasts create distinction and subtlety side by side. Beyond that there is the Joseph Moxon’s inventing ingenuity that cannot help but be admired in and of itself. This replicated mechanism from drawings over 300 years old make me realise just how long it is since someone decided to progress mechanisation. Go back to 1445, almost 600 years, and discover the art and invention of Johannes Gutenberg, cited as the entrepreneur who is thought or even known to have developed the earliest printing press known by his name.

This German-born goldsmith of the day took it upon himself to revolutionise the way words would be read in the future. Today his work stands uncontested in developing the refining steps towards the mass production of books throughout an emerging Europe. Thus the bible, the first book ever printed by Gutenberg, was replicated by press and not by hand written text. As of 1995 it stands uncontested as the most widely printed book on record, standing at an estimated five billion copies.

I enjoyed looking at the mechanisms of the press and would have enjoyed turning the handle a few revolutions too. Alas, I could only stop and stare for a while. Wood was replaced by lead that could be remoulded when definition was lost to the papers coarse impact. Wood must be carved afresh. Such would be the demise of the wood crafting artisan yet again.

15 Comments

  1. ajens on 17 September 2019 at 11:07 am

    Yes, how fantastic wood is! Probably the most versatile material we know. And relatively easy to form, use and work with. Last but not least: Nature provides billions and billions of extra cubic feet of this wonderful stuff – year after year, all over the world. It’s just amazing and of unimaginably importance to us humans.

  2. Ken on 17 September 2019 at 2:56 pm

    I would be very interested in some tutorials and videos on wood block carving and printing.

  3. George Meredith on 17 September 2019 at 10:26 pm

    Paul,
    I have never commented on any of your blogs before but have followed and learned from your methods for several years now. What impresses me most perhsps is your patience/tolerance with some of your supposed followers, almost a Saint.
    You keep teaching and I’ll keep learning. Thanks for all you and your team shares so well.

  4. Augustine on 18 September 2019 at 7:24 am

    It’s probably out of the way of most readers, but I can toot the horn of the Hamilton Wood Type museum in Manitowoc, Wisconsin : https://woodtype.org/

  5. Michael Ballinger on 19 September 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Wood block printing is really special, as is letterpress. The terms uppercase and lowercase actually come from the drawers used to store the letters – the capitals being in the upper case. I believe the Chinese were the inventers of printing.

  6. James on 19 September 2019 at 6:22 pm

    Nice article – thank you. My mother used to do wood block art and printing many years ago. I have all of her tools and print blocks and I am very grateful for them. Unfortunately, it is mostly a lost art form from both the woodworking and printing aspects.

  7. Moses on 23 September 2019 at 10:34 pm

    Bible, not bible. Any other title of the book would have been capitalized, but it seems like an intentional detail omitted on purpose. Just saying.

    • Paul Sellers on 24 September 2019 at 6:59 am

      That’s just silliness. The accusation is incorrect, it is a pronoun and should be capped, but it was in no way intentional. I hope you can find it in yourself to more gently correct a typo for others though, as you go forward.

    • Paul Sellers on 24 September 2019 at 8:57 am

      Not really “just saying“, Moses. That’s just a deflection from the accusation you made for what was indeed a mistake, yet it was just a typographical error.

  8. John on 23 September 2019 at 10:37 pm

    I found this gentleman on YouTube and have been mesmerized. His name is David Bull. He is the Paul Seller’s of Japanese woodblock printing. Just like Paul, he’s trying to save the knowledge and history of woodblock printing, like Paul is with hand tool wood working. It’s an amazing art form. You can find David here, https://www.youtube.com/user/seseragistudio/featured

  9. Adam on 24 September 2019 at 2:48 am

    “it seems like an intentional detail omitted on purpose. Just saying.” – really? You really thought that?

    Wow. OK then.

  10. Moses on 24 September 2019 at 5:44 am

    I really did, adam.

    It’s not coincidental that it wasn’t capitalized, especially considering that “Gutenberg” was, which was in the next line.

    Consider some chamomile tea, you sound a little tense.

  11. Adam on 24 September 2019 at 6:00 am

    My name’s spelt with a capital “A”, moses…lol

    Not tense mate, just a little taken aback at the accusation and it’s implied reasoning.

    Sure as hell (sorry “Hell”) seems a coincidence to me. Have you not noticed Paul doesn’t care about proof reading too much – as long as the message is clear, that’s all that matters.

    Relax mate, no harm intended by a misspelt word. Take a sip of that tea.

  12. Moses on 25 September 2019 at 4:37 am

    Paul,

    I admit, I may have read a little too deep into it. I may have been a bit harsh sounding in my comment, but only because I’m passionate about The Bible.

    Not sure what came over me with “just saying” part. It’s not my typical way of communicating. I didn’t realize my comments would cause so much negativity.

    I have tremendous respect for you and your work (which has really been life-changing for me) and in no way meant to offend you. If I did, I’m truly sorry.

    The truth of the matter, after following you for several years on YouTube, reading your blog, your books, I’ve concluded in my mind that truly you are a man of God. I could elaborate paragraphs on why I feel that way, but will avoid coming across as overly sentimental or just plain mental. I understand that it’s important in social media to be neutral in order to reach bigger audience, that’s just the way it is. Most of us have to dance to someone else’s flute at our jobs. But you, Paul, with independence and influence that you’ve earned, I really don’t think it would change things if people knew about your spirituality. The kind of kindness, integrity and generosity you posses doesn’t just come from being a good citizen only.

    Just saying!

    • Paul Sellers on 25 September 2019 at 9:03 am

      Not offended at all. Great peace have they which love God’s law and nothing shall offend them!

Leave a Comment





Scroll To Top