Relief Wood Carving Printmaking

Relief Wood Carving Printmaking

From relief wood engraving to relief wood carving printmaking

Where does the wood carving printmaking technique come from?

The origins of this technique date back to the end of the 14th century to relief wood engraving. At the time, European artists engraved wooden plates to create images ranging from religious icons to playing cards. This technique consists of hollowing out of the wooden plate, normally made of walnut, pear, apple or even cherry wood, the intended white parts of the drawn pattern. This was done with the help of:

  • gouges,
  • penknives.

The image in relief on the wooden plate was “spared” and the ink applied onto the plate would coat the spared parts of the pattern and not the hollowed parts.

Relief Wood Carving Printmaking

The artist would then apply a sheet of paper to the inked wooden plate and press over the reverse of the sheet so that the pattern, in this case the inked parts, would be transferred onto paper. This process prepared the ground for engraving.

Albrecht Dürer

Albrecht Dürer was a real expert of this technique during the 15th and 16th centuries. The “Apocalypse” cycle, one of the treasures of German art, created by Dürer between 1497 and 1498 was a series of wood engravings inspired by John the Apostle and gave birth to the first book conceived and published by an artist. We can find a print by A. Jary made from this engraving in the house of Marie-Henry, in the small Breton village of Pouldu (Finistère), where Gauguin lived at the end of the 19th century.

Relief Wood Carving Printmaking

Find all the materials  required for relief printing in-store and online at

Find out more about printmaking here!

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We offer an extensive range of stretched canvas and display products for exhibition, all the art supplies required to create your own bespoke canvases, as well as custom framing and mounting services from GreatArt Store. You’ll also find hundreds of articles and tutorials to browse in the online magazine.

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