Enchanting Scenes Combine Multiple Precisely Carved Woodblocks into Full-Color Prints by Tugboat Printshop

“Blue Bridge” (2020), woodcut on ivory somerset paper, 18 x 22.5 inches. All images © Tugboat Printshop, shared with permission

Valerie Lueth, who’s behind the Pittsburgh-based Tugboat Printshop (previously), continues to cultivate dreamy scenarios painstakingly printed with intricately carved woodblocks. Her recent creations include a distant truss bridge peeking through vegetation, a whimsically intertwined pair of trees—now in full color, this piece began as a black-line woodcut commissioned for an edition of Jean-Claude Grumberg’s The Most Precious of Cargoes—and a web of vines dripping with rain and jewels evoking a dreamcatcher.

After sketching with pencil on plywood blocks, Lueth hand-carves the meticulous designs with knives and gouging tools and often cuts multiple panels with slight variances for each print. In addition to building depth of color, Lueth’s sequential process yields greater highlights, shadows, and overall detail to the completed work. The lush, leafy scene comprising “Blue Bridge,” for example, is the product of four blocks coated in black, blue, green, and purple oil-based inks, which are pressed in succession to create the richly layered landscape.

Prints are available on Esty or from Tugboat’s site, and you can see more of Lueth’s process and a larger collection of her works, including a glimpse at a new floral relief in black-and-white, on Instagram.

 

Detail of “Web” (2019), woodcut on natural Kitakata paper, 20 x 16 inches

“Web” (2019), woodcut on natural Kitakata paper, 20 x 16 inches

“Blue Bridge” (2020), woodcut on ivory somerset paper, 18 x 22.5 inches

Detail of “Web” woodcuts

“Together Trees” (2020), woodcut on natural Kitakata paper, 12.5 x 9 inches

Detail of “Together Trees” (2020), woodcut on natural Kitakata paper, 12.5 x 9 inches

Detail of “Web” (2019), woodcut on natural Kitakata paper, 20 x 16 inches

Detail of “Blue Bridge” woodcut, 18 x 22.5 inches

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