Read in español
Woodblock printing can be used as an artistic tool to tell stories and express thoughts and feelings. This process is new to me, but it offers another way to make art – by cutting into wood using gouges and chisels as well as electric carving tools.
Handling the tools is not easy for a beginner, but it is not impossible. What you need is patience and a love of art. The techniques are many centuries old and originated in Eastern Asia. It was insightful to learn and apply these techniques for the experience itself and also to utilize this skill in the development of the arts in Mayan Culture.
Claudio Orso is a dynamic and masterful instructor. At the beginning of his workshop, each novice printmaker received a plate, apple, and knife — maybe just one from the kitchen! This exercise helped acquaint us with the different types of cutting actions and the blades of each knife — and of course with one’s own skill in cutting and peeling an apple. Those who could peel well enjoyed the flavor of the whole apple but those who could not mangled their apple.
Another skill we learned was the use of wax to practice the use of the carving tools. Then we moved onto the special tools and techniques for the process of carving images into blocks of wood. Next, we learned how to apply the ink. And finally we arrived at the stage of making prints on various types of paper.
This experience provided another exciting lesson for me to carry in my back pocket. Woodblock printing is another tool that I can use to teach Maya children and young people in the Vacation Schools, and especially in the workshops on Maya writing, Ojeer Maya Tz’iib'.
Thank you to my friends at the Morgan!