Relief printing is the oldest form of printmaking. The most common form of relief printing is woodcut. An ink drawing is made on a wood block. The artist cuts away uninked areas, leaving inked areas raised. Printing ink is applied to the raised surface and a sheet of paper is laid on the block to take an impression by hand or a press.
Woodcut printing on paper was first adopted in the seventh century China, where drawing and text were reproduces on the same block. A hundred years after paper reached Europe, the use of woodcut in the development of printing was established in the late fourteenth century Germany. Albrecht Durer explored the technique of the medium of woodcut, elevating it as an independent form of art, not only a way of printing text. Hundreds years later in 1905 a handful of German painters formed themselves into a revolutionary group, The Bridge. One of the group's most successful ventures was the revitalization of woodcut. They produced a great deal of woodcut of originality, from which modern relief printing began.
How toWoodcut tools
Printing relief work
Make your own baren
Apart from wood, many other materials can be used as the block or plate. Linoleum has a similar effect to those of woodcut, but with a thick, sluggish feel. A smooth bed of plaster can be incised. Plastic sheet has a smooth surface, producing an uniform tone. Cardboard can be cut into various shapes, glued to a panel, and then relief printed. Poly tiles are easy to incise and take ink well. Potato prints are popular. Even stone and metal can be incised.