The finished product.

Adventures in Printmaking: Resingrave Etching

What is resingrave, you ask? It is a relatively new printmaking material, invented as an alternative to boxwood hardwood, an endangered species. It consists of an epoxy resin surface, which is bonded onto a wood block or masonite. It is difficult to carve, but it yields a lovely embossed surface  on the paper and it offers the opportunity for fine detail.

Carving the resingrave took some getting used to. I have done woodcuts before but never on wood as hard as this. It is also quite slippery, so care and steadiness is required if you don’t want your hand to slip and ruin the carving!

I didn’t want to get bogged down in a difficult image on my first try, so I decided to do something small and simple. This image of a deer standing on a moon with its head lifted is something I’ve been doodling since I was in college. For some reason, I decided to revisit it and it turned out to be a perfect test for this new medium.

I bought the Resingrave blocks from McClain’s printmaking supplies website. I also bought some carving tools and a little faux-leather sandbag to steady the block during carving.

Resingrave block during carving with tools and sandbag.
Resingrave block during carving with tools and sandbag.

To make it easier to see the carving, I used a purple sharpie marker on the surface.

It often happens that you need to carve a little more after you first proof your image. I think this may be especially so with resingrave when you are working with detail, volume, light, and shadow. I had to carve more into the deer’s coat to expand the lightened area and I didn’t know that until I had made a proof.

Block on the press.
Block on the press after inking.

I thought this image would look good in a midnight blue on this Stonehenge paper, which is called “fawn.” It has a gray-beige cast to it. I had to first wet the paper in a pan of water. After some trial and error, I figured out I needed to wet one piece at a time, dipping it in the water just briefly and then inking up with a LOT of ink before printing. Before long, I was really rolling.

The finished product.
The finished product.

No corrections or fixes. I think it’s fine as is:

IMG_2292

Not sure what to titles these yet. What I do know is that I’m eager for more. Because there are also thin resingrave plates (the thickness of masonite), I should be able to do more on my little letterpress at home as long as they are pretty small. The only challenge will be the difficulty of carving without having a thick block to hold on to. Proceed with care!

Well that’s all for now. As always, you can find these little prints in my Etsy shop. And again, thank you so much for your help and the use of your printing press, Mirka Hokkenen Kim. You can see read her blog and see her amazing work here: mirka-h.blogspot.de.

Thanks for reading!

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