Blog Archives

Wood Block Printing – Facts

Chinese Woodblock began in China over a thousand years ago. This method of printing was used by artists and recorded much of China’s history.

“A Revolution in Art”. (Video) Retrieved from:

Ancient Buddhism scripture was handwritten and found 600 years after paper was invented. Later, engraving became the foundation of printing technique. Engravings were made on stone seals, then ink was “tapped” on paper to transfer the image. Clay movable type was later used; it involved a process in which characters were carved into clay, and the clay was then heated/burned to harden. This method was used for making large amounts of prints.

“Inventions from Ancient China – Printing Technique”. (Video). Retrieved from:

About 5000 years ago in China, “ink was a mixture of soot from pine smoke and lamp oil, thickened with gelatin from animal skins and musk. It was first used for blacking the raised surfaces of pictures or letters carved into stone…. Other cultures developed inks from berries, plants, and minerals available in their areas. These inks were different colors, which could indicate different meanings. In ancient Egypt, red ink was used for people’s titles and to write the names of the gods…. About 1,600 years ago, a popular ink recipe was created. The recipe was used for centuries. Iron “salts,” such as ferrous sulfate (made by treating iron with sulfuric acid), was mixed with tannin from gallnuts (they grow on trees) and a thickener. When first put to paper, this ink is bluish-black. Over time it fades to a dull brown.”
“Scribes in medieval Europe (about AD 800 to 1500) wrote on sheepskin parchment. One 12th-century ink recipe called for hawthorn branches to be cut in the spring and left to dry. Then the bark was pounded from the branches and soaked in water for eight days. The water was boiled until it thickened and turned black. Wine was added during boiling. The ink was poured into special bags and hung in the sun. Once dried, the mixture was mixed with wine and iron salt over a fire to make the final ink.”

Huntington, Sharon J. (2004, September 21). “Think Ink!”. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved from: