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Woodcut Demonstration

To make a color woodcut, a separate block is used in printing each color area. Each Block is placed in exactly the same position each time it is used and is then replaced by another block for the new color. To solve the problem of positioning these extra large blocks, Sandra bolts each block in turn on a 4 ft. by 8 ft. table made expressly for this purpose.

To print the image Sandra tabs the paper at either end of the table so that is always falls over the block in exactly the same place. After positioning, bolting and inking the block, she lays the paper over the wet ink surface; then, with a small, circular motion, the artists rubs the paper with a spoon. She then places a drawing of the exact woodcut image on a transparent mylar sheet.

By tabbing the sheet and laying it directly on the block and rice paper, she can see just where to develop the lights and darks. As the printing develops and the inked image begins to show through the back of the paper, she removes the mylar sheet and finished printing. To retard the drying time, oil of cloves is added to the ink.

Individual sheets of handmade paper can cost ip to $55 a sheet. The printing time varies greatly, from one five-hour session for a single block print such as the Lifeboat to three or four days for large, multiple block prints. The Shadblow Tree takes over two and a half weeks to print.

Since all the steps in the making of a woodcut are so time consuming and require such intense effort, Sandra selects her subjects with great car.