Relief printing formes (image carriers)

Relief Printing Formes carry the image in relief printing. They can consist of different materials, including linoleum, wood, plastic, metal etc.
A relief printing form is pressed and printed ink on paper with the raised parts detain and transfer the ink on the paper. The "cut" or "off-etched" parts do not accept ink and therefore contribute no ink to the paper. Some types of "image carriers";

  • Linoleum (standard thickness 3.2 mm). Cheap material, easy to cut, cutting resistance is about the same in all directions. Not suitable for fine detail, not suitable for high quantities of prints.
  • Linoleum, glued on MDF (Speedball). Same facts as above for the linoleum, but cutting the linoleum is easier because it is supported by the MDF. Also, printing is easier, the linoleum remains flat. Furthermore, the advantage that the "linoleum-block" in combination with other relief-formes can be printed, or in combination with letters (lead characters).
  • Soft plastic sheets. (sorts of vinyl, soft cut, etc.) Cuts easier than linoleum. However it should not be too "rubbery", because then the fine details can become problematic.
  • Long Wood. Woodcuts are made in long wood. This requires many skills such as cutting in different directions with different resistance. Cutting in the direction of the grain is easier than across the grain. In the "Japanese woodcuts" wood is used from the Katsura tree (Japanese Judas Tree)
  • Ply wood for woodcut. Called mostly Sina Ply Wood. Originally basswood from Japan. Can also be made of birch wood or cherry wood. The harder the wood the finer details are possible.
  • End grain. This wood is used for making wood engravings. Palm Wood is the best wood for this application, it is difficult to find and only available in smaller sizes. Palm wood is very suitable for very fine detail, it has a dense structure and does allow large quantities of prints. (Thousands). Palm wood grows very slowly and therefore subject to availability. In addition to Palm Wood, wood from fruit trees is most suitable such as lemon-wood, and pear wood. Lemon Wood (this name, because while cutting the lemon smell), is a popular alternative for Palm Wood (Boxwood). Also a very dense structure, so much detail as possible, but little less than palm wood, and therefore easier to cut. Pear wood is less dense than Lemon Wood, but can easily be used as slightly less fine detail is required. Maple is also used for wood carvings, it is much cheaper than boxwood or lemon wood, an excellent material to learn the art of wood engraving.
  • Plastic sheet (Perspex or similar) Transparent plastic has its advantages when printing in multiple colors. The registration is easier because the forme is transparent.
  • MDF and HDF. Medium density fibreboard and high density fibreboard. Pressed board with a medium-hard or high density. Made of wood fibers compressed under high pressure and bound with resins. The material is suitable for houtsnedes, but not for fine detail because it can crumble. The cutting resistance is equal in all directions. Cutting tools will wear out faster because of the resins.