May 2024
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Map project - image transfer

Some progress on the map project.

I was able to get hold of some pear wood from Hearne Hardwoods, a wonderful place with all different species of hardwood.  The piece was 2″ thick and very curved, so I had it planed down and it is now about 1.5″.  The board is 12″ wide on one side and 13″ wide on the other, with a large crack 3″ from the edge.  I have 2 feet total and am working on an 8″ section.  I sanded the section I am working on first with 100c grit and then with 150c grit.

I have tried two modern methods for transferring the image onto the wood.  I photocopied my image, covered the copy in rubbing alcohol, and then laid it image side down on the wood and pressed on the back with the barren as if I was printing.  This failed to transfer anything.  Then I tried using the photocopy as an iron-on.  This transferred some of the image, but not enough or clear enough to be useful for carving.

The results of the failed attempts at image transfer

Due to the difficulties with the modern methods, I decided to use a period method.  Gluing the paper face down and then coating the back with oil.  This method is described as a way to make tracing paper, in “Il Libro dell’ Arte” (The Craftsman’s Handbook by Cennino d’Andrea Cennini which was written in the 15th century and is a guide to the methods of painting.  I am using a translation by Daniel V. Thompson, Jr. originally published in 1933, republished by Dover in 1954.  The making of and use of tracing paper is on pages 13-14.  This book also mentions pear or nut is the best wood for woodblocks on page 116.

succesfull transfer method

I glued the image down with a modern washable glue stick.  I am not sure if I have to worry about getting all of the paper off when it is time to print, but I figured that may be easier with a washable glue stick.  I also wanted to be able to get rid of any excess glue if necessary.

I am now carving the image.  I am using  a Flexcut mini detail detail knife, two Flexcut v-parting tools, a 4mm and a 1mm, and several Dockyard Model Company micro carving tools sized 1.5mm and 3mm.  I am mostly using the U-gouges from those sets.  Carving is a little slow going, and I did not use enough glue everywhere on the paper, so I have reglued some areas.  I am still working on the outside border of the map, and have not attempted the words yet.  I think I may go over the words on the paper in a fine tipped Sharpie marker to make it easier to see.  The Sharpie does not bleed or feather when used on the oiled paper and it still writes fine.

The early carving on the map

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