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Chinese Woodblock Printing

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Chinese Woodblock Printing

While Johannes Gutenberg is credited with inventing the printing press around 1493, it was centuries earlier that the Chinese were using a printing technique called Woodblock Printing that pioneered the modern press.

As millions of Chinese people prepare to celebrate their New Year a great effort is put into creating colourful and elaborate paper and fabric decorations some based on ancient traditional designs. Woodblock printing was used as far back as year 220 to print text, images and patterns onto textiles and later paper.

This technique involves carefully preparing wood blocks with a relief pattern, meaning the areas to show ‘white’ are cut away with a knife, chisel, or sandpaper leaving the characters or image to show in ‘black’ at the original surface level. Once the block is prepared, all that is necessary is to ink it and bring it into firm and even contact with the paper or cloth to achieve an acceptable print. The content would normally print “in reverse” or mirror-image, making printing text a fairly complicated task for block makers. The art of carving the woodcut is technically known as xylography.

For colour printing, multiple blocks are used, each for one colour, although overprinting two colours may produce further colours on the print. Multiple colours can be printed by keying the paper to a frame around the woodblocks.

Woodblock printing was traditionally applied to paper and textiles by stamping or rubbing. This technique eventually evolved to the creation of presses, rotary presses and eventually replacing printing blocks by offset printing, consisting in ink transfer from printing plate to a rubber mat and then onto paper.

At Print Bureau we offer traditional lithographic offset printing as well as other state of the art printing techniques including digital laser printing and wide format inkjet printing. We are fully equipped to provide the best quality commercial printing services for small and large runs, always meeting our deadlines and at the most competitive pricing.

We know everyone’s book, booklet and magazine printing requirements are different, so why not call us to discuss your project. We’ll advise you regarding everything from design to delivery, and provide you with a quotation for the full job.

Call us today at 01 4733567 or email at sales@printbureau.ie for more information about your printing