W O O D C U T

Woodcut is a process which refers to material
taken from a tree, whereby the wood’s grain runs
along the surface. These milled cuts of wood are
known as plankwood or side grain. Almost any
wood may be adapted for the purpose of making a
woodcut in some fashion, depending upon the kind
of detail and effect desired. Even roughing up the
wood’s grain with a wire brush can produce
wonderful textures when printed on rice paper.
However, certain types of wood are better suited to
artist’s needs and naturally lend themselves to
variety of detailed carving tools, such as gouges,
chisels and engravers.
Excellent woods for woodcut include- Birch, cherry,
pear, boxwood, lime, and even oak. Wood
veneers, often used in cabinetry and furniture
making can also be used if deep cuts are not
required. Where possible, an artist usually tries to
work with the grain already existing in a given
selection of wood, as often cuts are best made
running parallel to the grain, in order to avoid any
splintering incised lines, by cutting too deeply
against the grain. In woodcut, the natural history of
the wood itself- meaning the vertical growth of the
plant when alive, produces what is known as grain.
Often the entire beauty of a woodcut print may
depend on how the grain is incorporated within the
image. It is not uncommon for the ebb and flow of
grain in a given selection of wood, to suggest a
potential idea for interpretation before the artist’s
eye- much like seeing shapes or objects
suggested by cloud formations passing in the sky
for example.
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