Printmaking: My very first woodcut

I thought since I went down memory lane with ceramics *shudder*, I’d take a look at my first woodcuts in printmaking.

This is just a baby woodcut and I only used one color, black.


That was a practice one. This next one was for a class assignment.


I title this print “Live, Sleep, Recycle”   When I made this, I was having questions about death. What happens to our bodies when we die? What is our purpose on this earth? Could it be that we are here to further better the planet, be good stewards (Live), and then when we die (Sleep) simply return to dust and become part of the earth (Recycle)?  Everyone has their own faith/religion that guides what they believe. I personally believe that I have a soul, that my physical body stays in the ground, and my purpose on earth is to glorify God and further His kingdom. But it is an interesting question to pose.

My art is never finished in that I view it all as a very large series without an end. It evolves as I grow and change as a person.

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.
Georgia O’Keeffe

The very beginning: Ceramics 101

Oh hello there!

I was looking through some old pictures on my phone and came across these nightmares lovelies. These were my first five. My babies. The very essence of my “pottery” beginning.  Before I was allowed to do ANYTHING in my ceramics class, I had to complete five initial projects. A closed hump mold, and open hump mold, a hard edge, an organic piece, and an extruded form. After these five I gained a real dislike  appreciation for what I was about to do for the entire rest of the semester.  I’m happy to say that I am now in love with it! I avoided the wheel for an entire year and now you can’t tear me away from it.

Anyways, here are my first five. You gotta start somewhere, right?

Closed hump mold (aka two open objects put together to make it closed)


Open hump mold

**Content has been removed due to hideousness**

Hard Edge. Did I mention I like to bake?


Extruded Form (an object with something on it using a tool called an extruder)


Organic Form (aka something that has no use…at least that’s how I interpreted it)


And there you have it!

2nd Suicide Print “Smoking Aces”

After I finished my first suicide print (so called because once you print a color you cannot go back and make changes), I was hooked!

This next print was much larger than the first two and I also chose to do even more colors.  I ended up with 7 colors total. Each color took me about 4-5 hours to do (including the carving in between colors and printing). I did a total of 10 editions, but ended up with 9.  One was sadly lost in the process 😥  These things happen though. My professor always tells me to “let it be a woodcut,” in other words “Rachel, stop being so anal about it.”  It’s hard to be a perfectionist when it comes to this process because you can’t always get a perfect registration or even print the first time.

As some of you know, Dia de los Muertos is a holiday in which families have a celebration to memorialize and honor loved ones that have passed on.  This one is in memory of my Nana and Great Aunt. They were two very short and petite ladies with two very large personalities. I can still remember going to my nana’s grave before she passed away (plot hunting anyone?) and her request that she be buried with playing cards so she and her sister would have something to do in purgatory to pass the time.  On each side is an ace of hearts. I’m not insinuating that they cheated when playing games, but they sure did like to have a little fun!


So here we go!

I have my initial sketch on the board and I carve away everything I want to stay white.  I added some cards in the background later


First color rolled onto the board.  The blue tape and matte are for registering my paper.


The yellow was so bright! I was very glad when that color was done


2nd color orange! I’ve carved away everything I want to stay yellow.


(apparently I did not take a picture of just the 1st two colors, oops!)

Next I carve away what I want to stay orange and then I roll on the next color, red.



Three colors in!!

Next I carved away what I wanted to stay and red. I didn’t have purple ink so I mixed red and blue and white. It’s a little darker than I wanted, but what can ya do… You live and you learn

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Next I carved everything that was to stay purple and rolled on my next color, blue. Again, I forgot to take a picture. Most likely due to the fact that it was probably 2 am. Gotta love deadlines!!

I carved all the blue away then rolled on green!  As you can see, the registration is not perfect, but practice only makes perfect!

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I still have yet to take a picture of the completed piece. But the last color I printed was black. You can see below what the board looked like by that point. Printing got to be a little tricky because there was not much surface area for the paper to cling to.


1st Suicide Print “Eternal Love/Amor Eterno”

Hello lovelies!

This post is all about my very first reduction woodcut aka suicide print.  Reduction woodcutting is the process of printing more than one color on a woodcut. You start with the lightest color and end with the darkest. With the proper planning and patience this is actually quite easy to wrap your mind around.  You can read under my “capstone” tab about how I got on the Dia de los Muertos kick :)

I’ll try and keep it short and sweet. These prints are made to either be a set or stand alone. There’s a name for it, but it escapes me.

This is the very beginning of my board. I am carving away everything I want to stay white. Think of it as a big stamp. I obviously want my skeleton to be white and then you can see I’ve carved away some in the background as well.


Next I rolled out some yellow ink onto the board. I start with lightest color first because I’m going to be adding color on top and you don’t want the darker color showing through underneath. Here are the two images with yellow. You can see that the area I carved out earlier is still white.

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Next I carve away everything I want to stay yellow. Here are what the boards look like after that. You can see in the hat and flowers the areas that I carved away to stay yellow.


Next I rolled out my next color, red.  Everything I wanted to stay yellow is yellow. Then the next step is to carve away everything I want to stay red.


Once I’ve carved that away, I roll out the next darkest color. In this case, purple.


You can see in the background of the bride that it is still red, and the border of the groom and hat are still red.  Only two more colors to go!

Next I carved away everything I wanted to stay purple.


I rolled out some blue ink and printed the next set.


Last color, black.  The last part is to carve everything you want to stay blue. By this point, there was not much wood left on the block that wasn’t carved away. I pretty much left an outline of everything  and that was it.

Here is the final product.


And together we have “Eternal Love/Amor Eterno”