Review: Woodcut footprints

Melbourne activists attended the PTT August Wellbeing Workshop on woodcut printmaking last Sunday.

The workshop was facilitated by UB and took place at Cromwell Studios in Collingwood.

Woodcut printmaking technique allows the maker to carve a relief design into a wood block, roll ink over it and then press it against fabric or paper to create a print.

As explained by UB, the technique has been used in China since at least 200AD, and in Europe since the 15th century as an alternative to handwriting, because it allows the user to create multiple copies of the same design for distribution.

Because the technique is so accessible, it has been widely used by grassroots activists to print copies of a design or piece of written material to distribute among members of the public. These include activists in the 19th century who used woodblock to produce materials protesting World War I, and activists in Germany, China, Korea and in Indonesia, where the technique continues to be used for political purposes.

Today woodblock printing is considered by some a fine art technique, however, it remains an easy and effective method of printmaking. UB provided us with this handout and explained how for every professional tool used to create woodblock, there is a cheaper alternative which is almost as effective.

Group members created their own designs by using carving tools to carve out the black area of the wood block. We then coloured our blocks, some opting to use a grading effect, and then placed the block on the floor, covered it with a piece of fabric and ‘danced’ on the block to make the print.

DSC_0008Everyone agreed the results were beautiful and the level of skill in the room, including from those who were trying it for the first time, was impressive.

Attendee Saman Homaeifar had this to say about the workshop:

It was easier than I thought! I have the courage to do it more and more now. The instructions were enough for me to learn it in half an hour and the tools and methods were easy and affordable so I want to continue to do it.

UB was very easygoing and supportive, they gave us courage which is very important in a facilitator.

Thank you UB for teaching us an easy, fun and effective technique for creative expression and use in our activism!

Thanks also to Cromwell Studios for making your lovely space available to us.

Plan To Thrive has three workshops coming up in the September-October period, including a workshop on somatic experiencing by healing practitioner Sage, who will be visiting us from the US. Like Plan To Thrive on Facebook for updates.

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