9. Wood carving (print blocks)

This entry in the challenge is one of new skill attempted.  I have never really done much woodworking beyond 7th grade shop class and some whittling during my stint in the Girl Scouts.  But I do adore wood, and I live in a culture steeped deeply in the use of wood for everything from delicate willow-root baskets to it’s Medieval monumental buildings, the stave churches.

At the 2012 Lofoten Viking Festival, I went ahead and took a woodcarving class.  I was the only person registered that day and was overjoyed when the young woodworker shared her time with me, and even more delighted when she granted my request to cut woodblocks for printing rather than the planned spoon.  Here are the blocks produced that day.

On the right, the first block cut, and an embarrassing, important thing dawned on me as I was preparing to finish it: print blocks must be produced in mirror image of the desired object.  Drat.  So my very kind and very patient instructor allowed me to hang around and borrow her tools to produce the block on the left.  The image is of “a fishhook argent”, my household badge.

The blocks have already been used to block print on sheep’s fells (Norwegian skinnfell), coverlets made of sheepskins sewn of six to eight sheepskins and traditionally used as bedding in many regions of Norway.  There is no great research on this subject in relation to the Medieval period, but I’m working on collecting clues.  In this picture, the blocks are placed on a bench warmer sewn in this technique:

But that is more research for a later date, this entry is all about trying wood carving.  Verdict?  Awsome, and definitely something to do more of in the future!

(originally posted to LiveJournal: April 16, 2013)