There is an old Chinese proverb that goes, ‘The best way to know a man is to carve him from a piece of wood.’ A Chinese dynasty took this saying to heart by inventing the woodblock printing process that would allow them to reproduce their artwork on paper with stunning detail and clarity. In this article, we’re going to explore the origins of this technique, as well as take a closer look at the creative process behind it!
What was Chinese woodblock printing?
To summarize, it was a method of cutting an image or text into a block of wood by an instrument. This block was then inked and pressed onto paper, resulting in a reproduction of the original carving.
The Tang Dynasty was the first to create beautiful scrolls with poems and pictures using woodblock printmaking. The process of woodblock printing remained popular in China for centuries, and was even used to print books during the Ming Dynasty.
The secret of making woodblocks was kept within China for centuries until it reached Japan in AD 610. It eventually made its way to Europe as well. This type of printmaking was used to create beautiful works of art there, including paintings, calligraphy, and poetry.
How was Chinese woodblock printing made?
The artist would start by sketching out their design onto paper. Then they would choose a piece of wood that was the same thickness as the paper they were using. This ensured that the block would be able to create an accurate reproduction of the original artwork.
Next, the artist would use a knife to carve out the design of their artwork onto the block of wood. They would need to be very careful not to cut any deeper than the lines on their sketch, as this would create blurry lines in the final print.
The artist would ink up the block and press it against paper to make a stunning replica of their original work.
What were the advantages of woodblock printing in China?
It had the following benefits:
● the cost of reproducing artwork was very low;
● it was an easy process that anyone could learn with a bit of practice;
● the results were high quality and could be reproduced many times over;
● a single block could produce thousands of copies during its lifespan;
● it was a very versatile printing method that could be used to create a variety of different artwork.
Woodblock printmaking has a long and illustrious history, with roots in Chinese dynasty. Despite the technological advances that have been made over the years, it still remains an important art form for artists all around the world.
Have you ever seen or tried woodblock printing before? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!