W O O D   E N G R A V I N G

Wood engraving is a variation on woodcut and can be
seen as advancing in the relief process, in that much
higher levels of detail can be attributed to an image.
Wood engraving was used for centuries to illustrate
everything from Bible stories to encyclopedias. The
skill of these trained wood engravers was nothing
short of amazing, when the medium reached grand
heights of technical achievement in the late 19th
Century, before photographic processes began to
appear in printing.

Unlike the plank wood used in making a woodcut,
wood used for wood engraving is taken from cross
sections of hard wood. For the artist, wood blocks for
making an engraving are much denser wood and the
use of knives and gouges are replaced with engraving
tools, capable of incising extremely fine line work.
Ideal woods for engraving are box wood, holly, and
hornbeam. There are also man-made substitute
materials like Lucite and Perspex - which are ideal for
beginners instead of using costly boxwood engraving
blocks. Wood engraving blocks usually come in a
measurement height known as “type-high”, a term
which refers to blocks that are designed to be locked
into a letterpress galley and printed along with text for
books, broadsheets, etc.
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