November 25, 2011

The Biggest Block

        While we're on the topic of big things, how about the biggest wood block print in the world?  According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the longest woodblock print in the world was 281 feet and 9 inches long.  Entitled "Type A," it was made in 2007 by Christopher Brady, an art graduate student.  I'd love to show you a picture of the full print so we could see what the piece looks like independent of its world-record-holding status, but alas, I couldn't find a straight-up picture of the piece anywhere.  (There may not even be one.  Apparently it ripped during measuring, and has since been divided up and sold in smaller segments.)  My info, such as it is, comes from an article on the University of Mississippi web site.  The article implies that the piece is not printed from a single 282 foot long block.  When you think about it, that's
pretty obvious - after all, wood blocks just don't come that big.  But what I wish I knew was whether the separate blocks were fastened together in some way to be inked and printed all at once, or whether the parts of the woodcut were each printed separately.

        Here's another oversized wood block print: in this case the block is a floor (the floor of a theater orchestra pit).  It amuses me that it's referred to as a "floorcut."  This is attributed to Thomas Kilpper, although of course it took a whole crew of people to accomplish the project.  You can find a lot more details at the blog Printeresting, where I ran into it.
        And finally, another fun thing that the world of the oversized block prints embraces is printing with road rollers.  When you're dealing with a block larger than even the big presses then of course backs of wooden spoons aren't really feasible, either.  A road roller really makes an excellent press, and I can see how it would be a lot of fun getting together a whole bunch of artists and fooling around with the technique.  If you google "road roller printing" or something along those lines you'll end up with a number of videos of people printing big blocks this way.  Here are a couple of photos of a 24 foot long print from a road roller printing event in London in 2010.

        So, with all this inspiration, who's going to aim for the next world record?  A round 300 feet perhaps?  I look forward to seeing it!

[Pictures: Christopher Brady with Type A, wood block print by Brady, 2007;
block of Cómo puede superarse el estado de negligencia?, wood block print by Thomas Kilpper, 2011;
The London Fields, linoleum block print by about 20 artists, 2010;
 and the rolling of the block (photos by Teresa Eng).]


Pax said...

I'm not entirely convinced that bigger is necessarily better. It may, however, be more fun as a large-group project than your ordinary small block print.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Well, yes, you may be right that bigger is not always better. But on the other hand, it is always bigger. So it's got that going for it.

Anonymous said...

Hi, My name is Damien and I am trying to research big prints.I am trying to find out what the largest woodblock print ever made was, designed, drawn, carved and printed by 1 person. I'm not interested in prints made by groups or teams of artists. Guiness book of records have the record at 334 children on multiple canvas. Thomas Kilppers floorcut was by a crew of artists, there is no information as to how big 1 artist has gone on their own?