Wood engraving is a relief printmaking process (like letterpress, stamps, woodcuts and linoleum cuts) where ink is rolled onto the raised, uncut surface and pressure is applied to transfer the ink to paper or fabric. Wood engraving is a reductive technique where tools, called burins, remove wood fibers from the end grain of a woodblock (picture the rings of the tree — that’s end grain). Wood engraving allows a variety of cutting styles because it can reproduce very small details and does not compete with the grain of the wood. It is extremely durable and lends itself well to illustration in publications as well as limited edition prints. It has a most interesting history of usage as well as an active contemporary application.
Since 1994, wood engraving enthusiasts have gathered together to share ideas, techniques and their passion for this unique printmaking art form. They formed an organization called the Wood Engravers’ Network.