Siemen Dijkstra

The colour woodcut (reduction-technique) and working method

The woodcut is a graphic technique in the process of which a drawing is cut out of a wooden plate. When inking the plate with an inkroller the ink covers the wood-plate except for the cut-out parts. Therefore we call this relief printing.

A colour-woodcut has been built up from various colours. For a Japanese woodcut one uses a different block of wood for each colour and the printing-process is fixed, for the wood-blocks are prepared before printing. The number of prints is thus flexible. My colour-woodcuts are reduction-cuts in the process of which I establish the number of prints beforehand. I use one plate of birch-plywood. First of all the drawing of the representation is put on it, then I’ll roll the complete plate in the brightest ink-colour and put it in a mould and print it on paper afterwards . Inking and printing are repeated until the desired number of prints are achieved. After this I’ll make the plate ink-free so that the underlaying drawing emerges again. Then I’ll cut away the parts on which the colour of the first printing-process has to be remained. I then apply a darker colour of ink for the second printing-process. Cutting, applying ink and printing are repeated with colours becoming darker and darker and after that with brighter colours a couple of times. My prints are thus built up from 10 til 18 printing-processes. Each printing-process is a definitive step. You can’t turn back. An advantage of the reduction-woodcut is that the printing-process is not fixed. Not much remains of the plate. In producing a detailed woodcut the cutting performs an essential part. For this purpose I’ll use concave gouges with a U- or a V-profile. The ink I use is mainly etching and offset-ink. These inks are on lineseed oil base and fast-dyed. The prints are printed by means of a etching-press. The paper on which the print appears is from Japanese origin (washi). The paper-sorts manufactured either by machine or by hand consist of vegetable pulp (kozo).

I often thought about the question why I have chosen this time-consuming technique for rendering landscape-memories pictorially. There is probably a relationship between the layered structure of a woodcut and that of the subject. Out in the landscape I’ll use pencil and aquarel-gouache in order to make notes and possible set-upsfor woodcuts. In the natural and agrarian landscape of Drenthe I’ll have a lot to do: the subject-matter changes continually and disappears at high speed. Thus I am in a hurry, cutting my life away...


Elysia Verhoeven 

Ceramic Art by Elysia Verhoeven

The ceramic art I make is an expression of my emotions: it rejoices my heart. After making the bowles, dishes and vases on the wheel I continue to elaborate them by carving and scratching, adding clay and cutting out pieces. Mostly I don’t make sketches or drawings but just set myself at the table with a bowl or dish and the idea starts to take shape. I let myself be inspired by nature, manners of growing and structures of flowers and the peace and tranquility in myself. Furthermore I work with clayslabs for the birds, trees, large vases and graphic-ceramics. As supporting colour for glazes I often use engobes, these are painted on the leather-hard clay. I make the glazes myself. I love soft colours in a lively glaze. Every winter I do some experiments in search of new engobes and glazes. After having applied the glazes work is being heated at stoneware temperature (1270º degrees). The attention I give to my work I experience as a form of meditation.


In her work Elysia shows great interest in structure and textures. She sometimes makes use of prints with extant structures like treebark which she then uses as a starting-point for vases, dishes and objects. Searching for new structures she accidently ran up against the finished woodplates piled up in Siemen’s studio. Although no woodcuts could be printed with them anymore (for only the last impression is still on the plate), Siemen still hesitated to throw them away. He has done industrious work on them for months. However, Elysia saw a possibillity to make an impression of the finished plywood in a slab of fine-grained clay. The result was surprising: every gouge-trace and cutting-remnant was shown in detail in the clay. The clay-slabs were put together, bent and modelled afterwards. Then they were baked bisque-like. An anxious moment followed for the slabs were put under great pressure. When no cracks were visible the objects were painted, glazed and stoked. The result is always different though. Although the impression of the original woodcut is moulded into the object, Elysia always manages to give it a personal twist which makes it really interesting. The glazes she applies makes the objects look transparent as a result of which people are led astray asking: "is this glass?”. We dubbed this work "graphic-ceramics”. It is a literal symbiosis of a woodcut with a ceramic object and it also shows the versatility of the ceramist in her speciality.