It all started about nine months ago. I was playing card games with friends at an SCA event and turned to my friend Jenny to ask her “Hey, wouldn’t it be fun if we made our own card deck?”
“There’s some historical decks that use Swords and Bells as suit pips, how neat!”
While some decks were fancy and hand painted, some were much simpler, like this uncolored woodcut print deck. I love how the hearts are stacked on top of each other, it’s very different from modern decks. Woodcuts like this would have made mass production easy.
The deck above by Peter Flottner is particularly lovely. The black outlines were printed with a woodcut block and then the cards were water colored in by hand. The 10 cards have a banner held by lady, like mentioned earlier. Nearly every card has a human figure, sometimes several. Unlike most 15th and 16th century decks, this one has a patterned back, containing sheet music for songs and it appears that most cards were different songs. They must not have been terribly stressed about cheating! Such a neat deck, you can buy a modern reproduction of it here.
The shiny black rollers are going to come up and ink the surface of the lino block as they pass. Once they are out of the way, the platen on the right will rotate up until it touches the lino block.
The very first print on paper! The print was far too light though, so we added more paper underneath, which is called packing, until the paper surface was high enough to print completely.
On the first printing day we did a small run, just proof printing to check for any missed spots or areas in need of refinement. After each block was printed, they got cleaned off and set aside to dry before we moved on to the next block.
Jenny did all of the actual printing and cutting, I was just helping move paper around and keeping her company at the print shop.
Once all the blocks were printed, we left them alone for a few days to dry.
Since this is a particularly image heavy post, I’ve split it in two. The second half is here: Fromage and Friends, a Handmade Deck Part 2.