Primary Tools & Materials:

Additional Tools & Materials: Speedball Speedy-Carve rubber carving block, speedball cutting tools, pencil, tape, ink, scanner

For this letter, I was inspired by woodcut letters of the 1800s. Specifically, a beautifully ornate type specimen I found in Rob Roy Kelly's book, American Wood Type. The name of the type was Rose Ornamental, an 1839 design by Edwin Allen (see image 2 for examples). I thought the floral carving was beautiful and after Day 58's block carving study, I was ready to take on a more complicated carved design. Also, since carving was one of today's main components I wanted to carve a more elaborate design. 

I started by pulling the decorative elements out of the original Rose Ornamental face, then rearranging them to fit inside a thick serif letter i, rather than the original slab serif. I printed this new letterform, drew over the design, then placed the paper face down and rubbed it onto the block with pencil. From there, I used my cutting tools to cut the design into the rubber block. I used three different blades to get a variation in line weight and to tackle the big and small details. As I cut, I became more comfortable with creating small details, and even managed to add some extra details that weren't in the original design. After cutting, I inked the block in red with a rubber brayer then pressed it onto various colored and textured papers. 

The carving that went into this letter was largely decorative, but also allowed me to connect with the tradition of wood carved text from its golden age in the 1800s. Since I'm not an accomplished woodcarver, trying to carve something this elaborate in wood was not possible for me. But the method of carving away from a material to create a letter is the same, and I did really enjoy making it.