Wood Block Art

January 24, 2017

BÖEN’s founder and winemaker, Joseph Wagner, comes from a long line of winemakers and wine grape growers.

“What I really am is a farmer,” he says.  “I appreciate the way that wine is an agricultural product made in much the same method today as it was 2,000 years ago.”

So when it was time to come up with a label for BÖEN (which in Norwegian means ‘The Farm’), he wanted the artwork to be fashioned in the style of a wood block print—a printing technique which, like winemaking, has remained nearly unchanged for hundreds of years.

To print in this method, a wooden block is carved as a relief pattern which means the areas to have contact with the ink are cut away with a knife, chisel or sandpaper. Ink then has contact with only the original surface level where the lettering and images remain. Because of the relatively primitive tools used to carve wood blocks, the designs are inherently simplified, with blunt, rough-hewn effects and a craggy texture.

When movable metal type became cheap enough, it replaced block printing. But as an art form, wood-block printing lives on.