Woodcut Workshop

In the woodcut course, the teacher Antti Tanttu demonstrated how to print colorful background.

One of my study goals in the school of Arts, Design and Architecture is to try out all kinds of materials in the workshops. I’ve done ceramics and absolutely love it. Then I went on to take the woodcut course.

The first day in the course, I was really confused that the workshop is not in the new Arts school fancy building Väre and those equipments were not something I expected at all. It turned out I totally misunderstood about what woodcut really is. I thought I was going to cut woods and make furnitures. Woodcut is actually a delicate art form with a profound history.

“Woodcut is a relief printing technique in printmaking. An artist carves an image into the surface of a block of wood—typically with gouges—leaving the printing parts level with the surface while removing the non-printing parts.” – Wikipedia

First, you need to draw or sketch. Awesome, I was bad at drawing. So, I did a lighting sketch and made it like a old theatre poster since I studies lighting design before.

Then, starting carving the wood surface. Man…..it’s so good for decompressing. Any process involving with some sort of destruction for creation makes me feel great. It’s certainly an mental exit while I’m writing thesis now. At the same time, I witness how talented the student designers from different programs.

Handcrafting requires a lot of patience and controlling of hands to the details.

It’s not bad for my first woodcut piece.

What do I want to try different materials? Because I was inspired by Tapio Wirkkala, an iconic Finnish designer, who helped form the national identity by his creation of different materials, from ceramics, metal, glass, plywood and so on. He insisted that every creation should follow the laws of materials. Without working with materials with our own hands, how can we understand the laws and characteristics of materials? Without exploring all kinds of materials, how can we find the best suitable one to bring our creation to life? I am so grateful that Aalto University provides great resources for students to try out all kinds of materials in the workshops. There are more for me to explore, metal, glass, 3D printing, fabrics and so on. It’s so much fun!

Hsiao-Pei Liao,
Creative Sustainability Master Program

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