Shellac Is Magic!

I brought my new printing blocks to the show in Humboldt this weekend, even though I’m not selling woodwork or prints at all. It helps me to explain to others where I’m headed with the business if I can give them a visual and tactile experience of my journey. It also helps me to grasp and reason through the next steps if I have those cues.

The more I handle these new blocks, the more I am struck by one aspect of them – the hardness. Three coats of shellac have transformed the surface from soft wood to a hardened printing surface. It has also made the corners so sharp that I’m pretty sure they’ll need beveling so they don’t cut the press blankets, but that’s another problem to tackle when I get there.

[unshellacked cedar]
[shellacked birch]
If you look at the unshellacked blocks, you’ll notice that they’re dark because of the ink soaked into the surface. The new ones, on the other hand, have almost no ink left after I wiped them off with newsprint. I think I could even clean them completely with Citrasolv if I wanted to. I’ll try that next week, just to see.
[unshellacked cedar]
[shellacked birch]
I’m so glad that others who know more than I do have written about their experiences on the Internet. I might have never happened upon shellac on my own.

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