Free of all that carving malarkey, I am currently testing out inks and fluidity (many thanks to Mark Carr for his pointers on this). I’d previously been sealing the wood with waterproof PVA, and many of my peers apparently use varnish – all so the wood doesn’t absorb three times the amount of ink before touching paper! On fine lines and texture I was also hoping that the PVA would create a stronger block to handle the super high pressures they are going to go under. But I am told that sealing the wood will change the texture of the wood itself, something I’m really keen to hang onto, especially in wider areas of colour.
So having sealed areas of tester block using light washes of PVA at different strengths it appears that there is a noticeable difference in the final prints I’d be getting. In the next image (although using a very dry ink that doesn’t give complete coverage) you can see the texture difference as a deeper hue on the right (raw grain), and a more ‘pixelated’ lighter texture on the left (1 layer of PVA wash) and this ‘noise’ gets worse with subsequent layers of PVA.
So, although I have one less job to do because I don’t need to seal the entire collection of blocks, I do now run the risk of fragile areas crumbling, and having to buy at least twice as much ink as I originally estimated for!