The Printmaking Handbook || Louise Woods

Printmaking is a huge subject that includes many different techniques from basic linocut to engraving, intaglio and silkscreen. As soon as you get beyond the very basic, the equipment requirements mount up and some of the materials start to come with hazard warnings.

A simple book such as this can really only scratch the surface (sorry, pun unavoidable) of something which rapidly becomes the realm of the professional and on which much larger and more authoritative books have been written, not to mention academic courses run.

So where does this fit into the market? To describe it as superficial is unfair because the author makes a valiant attempt to include a reasonable amount of detail on each technique and it works well as a primer for someone who’s starting out and wants to give printmaking a try. At the same time, that person is going to have to make a certain investment in equipments and materials and I’m not totally convinced that they’ll get what they’d regard as a worthwhile return if their only source of instruction is a general introduction like this. I’d expect at least evening classes to be involved somewhere and that begs the question of whether a book like this will add anything to what they’re already getting.

However, to be more positive, if you’re interested in printmaking and want an overview of the various types and techniques available before you take the plunge, this will fit the bill admirably. Louise Woods goes into more detail than you might expect and you’ll get a very real sense of what’s involved. It should also be possible to make a basic start using simple materials, although this is inevitably going to be a very limited progression.

For what it is, this is sound. It’s in the same format as the Artist’s Bible series: that is to say, it’s spiral bound, though I can’t quite see the point of this as it’s not really something you’re going to need to keep open as you work. It feels nice in the hand, though, an often-neglected quality in books.

Search Press 2008

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