Tuesday, December 16, 2014


"Some days the bear eats you and some days you eat the bear" came to mind again. I was attacked by the bear and I suppose I learned another lesson. I hope so, anyway. I had ordered an engraving block from a block supplier in the US called Art Boards. I don't believe I've ever used their blocks before and thought I would give them a try. I ordered a 5 X 7 inch maple end-grain block from them, which they claim they make for wood engravers. When it arrived and I looked at it, it appeared to be a well made block… Not so!

I stained the block and began to draw on the block, from some sketches I had made for a new print in the series I call "Aliens Of Planet Earth". When I figured I had enough information on the block I began to do some general engraving, to give myself enough to print an early proof. I like to be cautious and print a proof at an early stage before I remove too much of the surface of the block.

I noticed, as I engraved lines that crossed the joints between sections of the block, fine crumbs of glue were coming out of the joint. The joints are supposed to be milled in such a way that there is no space between them, before they are joined with glue. The person making this block had filled the gaps with glue! I was stunned to see the joint opening up as the glue was crumbling out! I had worked on this image for three weeks, including the last three days of engraving and it was obvious that, with these thin white lines running the length of the print, I was going to have to scrap this block. But I decided to print a proof and see what it looked like. I started up the press and printed a proof today and was shocked to see that, not only were the lines VERY evident, but the thickness of the block was inconsistent. Both ends of the block were low! VERY low! This resulted in no image printing from those ends (close-up of the proof below).

I suppose there's no need to mention that I don't recommend wood engravers order blocks from Art Boards.

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