Monday, 16 May 2011

The arcane world of Lozenge Gravers, Round Scorpers and Bulstickers

We're talking wood engraving of course, one of the most time-consuming and painstaking illustration methods known to mankind! Largely impractical for today's world of rapid publishing deadlines but deeply satisfying to produce, if all goes to plan.

Here are a few of my own fumblings with this extraordinarily exacting medium:

Bold Sir Rylas
3cm x 4cm

The Realms of Solitude
9cm x 5cm

Down to the Wasteland
10cm x 8cm

Iron John
3cm x 4cm

The Stargazer
10cm x 10cm
work in progress

Mr Cernunnos Comes Round for Tea
6cm x 4cm

The Tree Keeper
10cm x 10cm

work underway at the retro workstation...

The Hunter in the Wood
10cm x 10cm

The Chicken Whisperer
10cm x 10cm

drawing the image on a block darkened with black ink before engraving

final proofing print

David Iona
8cm x 6cm
(my Zen Dad)

The following print is taken from a sampler block or test piece and shows a range of cuts made with just a couple of the wood engraving tools:
'Flights of Dark Matter'
12cm x 12cm

A few of the original carved woodblocks used for printing...

...and a small stack of limited first edition prints sitting pretty in my studio. Contact me if you're interested in buying one? For you, very reasonable prices including postage/shipping etc ;0)

All images copyright Manfred Hennessy. 
All rights reserved.


  1. I'm looking to get into the arcane world of gravers and scorpers too! I'm planning on purchasing one flat and one round scorper, one square and one lozenge graver. Is there anything else you would recommend?

    Could you tell me what size of each tool you are using? The sizing system for these tools (#54, #6, etc.) is very confusing because I am unable to see them in person.

    Thank you so much for your help. These prints are beautiful and one day I hope to be able to make beautiful prints myself! My e-mail address is ruskobot at gmail dot com. Thanks again!

  2. Hello Sam, I'm glad that you found this blog entry interesting. In the first place let me recommend that you get hold of a book called 'The Woodcut Artist's Handbook' by George A. Walker (it covers wood engraving too). It provides a clear introduction to the various tools and what you might need to start with etc. In terms of tool sizes, I'd suggest that you start with medium and fine and limit your range of tools to a spitsticker, tint tool, scorper and lozenge graver. That really is more than enough for most projects! Have fun.