Wood engraving

Some time ago while stacking a delivery of fire wood I found that there were quite a few pieces of Box wood (Buxus sempervirens) among the chunky pieces of oak. A client of mine, knowing my interest for any piece of nice wood, donated some pieces of dried Box wood he found on his property. Also some pieces of Golden rain (Laburnum anagyroides) found their way into my atelier.

Most of the wood I stacked away for drying, some in perforated plastic bags to slow down the drying process to avoid checking, but the last few bits of Buxus were dry and I cut part of it up in type high, 23.3, so I can incorporate it with printed text. I sanded those slices as smooth as I possibly could on a dead flat surface, like a saw table top, ready for engraving. Sand with a circular motion over 100 grit, 200 grit, then 400 grit sandpaper, some say to go further all the way to 1000 grit, all the while checking the thickness with the vernier calipers.

To start the engraving I had to buy some new tools like scorpers, burins, spit sticks and what have you. From leather I made a couple of circular sand filled bags and then it was down to try out this method of creating images. One of the first things I had to be aware of, was, that unlike carving planks with gouges and where you cut away from your precious hand and fingers, with this way of carving you are actually holding the block and have to pay attention at all times. It is a very deliberate and precise way of working.

Thomas Bewick is a name to look for if you would like to find out more about wood engraving and a very informative you tube video is of Anne Desmet RA showing her tools and some technique.