Woodblock Carving: "From Wood to Canvas"

Photo Essay, Carroll County Times, January 31, 2010

By Ken Koons

Melinda Byrd creates the design for a shirt.

The woodblock above printed the design below.

Using a sidelight, Melinda Byrd checks for any areas that still need to be carved away.

The carving process.

Melinda uses a roller to ink the block before printing.

A final carving removes any stray raised areas.

Examples of Melinda's work.

Documentary Film, Carroll County Times, January 31, 2010

By Ken Koons

Watch it on Youtube.

Article, Carroll County Times, January 31, 2010

By Brandon Oland

Artist Melinda Byrd fumbled through a box looking for the proper canvas to showcase her latest landscape.

After a few moments of digging, Byrd found what she needed: a solid purple T-shirt.

Byrd presents her nature-inspired art in unusual places. She will hand-paint glasses and mailboxes and put prints on otherwise ordinary active wear.

In order to use a T-shirt as a canvas, Byrd turns to woodcut printing. The delicate process involves using an image carved into the surface of a wood block and transferring it onto a canvas using paint.

Byrd used a photo of her husband John cross-country skiing through northern Colorado as motivation for her latest wood block print. The photo is taken from far away, making her husband seem tiny relative to vast expanses of white snow around him.

Once she created a rough sketch of her husband gliding through the wilderness, Byrd faced the many challenges associated with woodcut prints.

First, she must transfer the reverse image of her print to a block of wood and carve away the areas she doesn't want ink to touch. Then, she transfers the print to T-shirts, a process she said can be particularly tough. That's because she has to press the image down on the folded T-shirt without peeking to see how it is turning out.

Every print is different, depending on what crevices the paint settles in.

"It's a thrill every single time," she said.

The skiing landscape is just one of many examples of Byrd's outdoor interests shining through in her pieces, which fill the studio behind her Woodbine home.

An oil painting along a back wall shows two black labs at play. Her 11-year-old black lab, Hooper, one of the two dogs chewing on a rope in the painting, tends to sleep on a pillow underneath it.

Several prints feature birds in flight and fish in the water. Byrd keeps a bird feeder next to a living room window and enjoys fishing.

"You can't walk outside along the woods and the stream and not go fishing," she said. A print on an easel features hops, a key ingredient in the beer-making process. Byrd is a member of the Midnight Homebrewers' League.

"They keep me busy," said Byrd, referring to her many interests.

When she isn't taking part in one of her hobbies, she spends time in her studio. Even then, she is surrounded by paintings of the outdoors that serve as reminders of her favorite hobbies.