Jigsaw Reduction Woodblock Process

Jigsaw reduction woodblock printmaking is a unique way of using one piece of wood to create a layered, multi-colored piece of art.

I'll walk you through the process, using "Appledore Spray" as an example:

The woodblock begins as a plain old square the size of my final image, in this case 12"x12".

First, I carve out any shapes I would like to stay the color of the paper in the final image. In the photo below, these shapes look like light purple swoops.

I rolled a thin layer of ink on the woodblock with a brayer, placed a piece of paper on the block and applied pressure to transfer the ink to the paper. For this first layer, I usually use a light color - a light yellow in this example. I printed a bunch of yellow squares that all look like this:

Then I carved away all the shapes I wanted to remain the light yellow color. I also cut the block into three separate pieces that come apart and fit back together like a puzzle.

To print layer two, I rolled a different color on each of the three pieces (in this case blue, grey and brown), reassembled them when they were covered in ink, placed one of my yellow squares on top and applied pressure to add those colors to the print. 

Here's what layer two looked like:

When all of the previously yellow squares looked like the picture above, I carved each of the three pieces of wood a little more to allow the colors from the second layer to show through. Then, I repeated the inking and printing process again. The third layer in this example is light blue, light green and dark brown.

This photo shows the block in three pieces, carved and ready for layer 3:

This block printed on top of layer 2, looked like this:

Remember, prints are the mirror image of their blocks.

I kept carving, rolling ink and printing until the print was done.

After Layer 4:

And after Layer 5:

When a print is done, the surface of the block is nearly gone, since it was carved away or “reduced” for each layer, definitively limiting the number of prints created from the block.

Want to see what Appledore Spray looks like finished?
Visit it here on the website!