The following is a step-by-step look at the techniques involved in the creation of a white-line woodblock print:
sketch in pencil for a white-line woodblock print
First, a sketch is made with pencil on the surface of the block. I use shina plywood, which I get from
Woodblock cutting tools
Tools of the trade: assorted V-gouges and an antique doorknob, which is used for rubbing the back of the paper. Its smooth surface and weight are perfect for use as a printing tool!
Closeup of a white-line woodblock
In cutting the block, there's always a degree of interpretation of the original drawing. Often, shapes are edited for ease of printing, or to improve the design.
white-line woodblock being cut
The block, partially cut. Case in point: here, I hadn't resolved the drawing of the column. I wasn't crazy about those curlicues at the sides, so I cut the rest of the block while I thought about that area.
white-line woodcut printing process
I've begun printing the block, brushing water-based Akua colored inks on the block, one section at a time. The paper is attached at its left-side edge with a strip of masking tape anchored by push pins. Between inking of shapes, the paper is lowered onto the block and rubbed (with that doorknob!) on the back to transfer the ink. I also place a sheet of waxed paper between the paper and my rubbing tool, to keep the print paper from getting dirty or tearing. You can see how I resolved the design of the column by simplifying it. Isn't simple always better? 'Tis a gift.
white-line woodblock print in progress
Getting there! You might think this part might be tedious and time-consuming (all those little shapes!), or you may choose to think of it as a meditation on color and form. Think zen.
closeup view of a white-line woodblock print showing woodgrain
The block itself asserts its own voice; striated patterns of the wood's grain lend their own charm to the design and add to the overall effect.
Closeup of a white-line woodblock print
I couldn't resist another closeup!
white-line woodblock print 20 x 24 still life
The finished print: Object of Desire #3: Turkish Bowl. Thank you for visiting!


Maria de Lourdes
07/09/2013 8:45am

Lovely work! I would like to know what paper do you use.Thin or fat? Thanks.

Kate Hanlon
07/17/2013 8:33pm

Thank you for your comments! The paper I am using for this print is Echizen Kozo, one of the Group A Washi papers available from It is pricey, at roughly $30. US, but worth it. It is fairly thick, but soft and absorbent. It keeps accepting layers of color without breaking down, important especially when working relatively large (this example is 20" x 24". I use Masa also, when working smaller, and for students. It's very reliable.

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