America The Beautiful Woodcut


(L) Valerie Lueth drawing directly on to the key block
(R) Paul Roden hand-carving the key block

In the age of computers and ink jet printers, it's refreshing to find that the anachronistic art of making woodcuts still flourish in the hands of Valerie Lueth and Paul Roden of Tugboat Printshop in Pittsburgh, PA.

This print above, titled "America The Beautiful" was created in 2 weeks for the inauguration of President Obama:

Our idea for the print was to capture a really positive spirit of America after the election. People seemed united, happy, and patriotic. We chose to make a topographical image of the country in an effort to represent all of America as a unified land, omitting state boundaries but focusing on cities, monuments, and general regional characteristics. In a sense, our 'America' reads as a simultaneous narrative--tucked into the complex patterning of the landscape are subtle references to our history and growth as an adaptable, pioneering country and people.

Pretty soon, we'll be putting a 'key' together showing all of the little things tucked away in there. For example, there are exactly 50 stars in the bunting across the top, with 13 original colonies in the middle banner. Also, you'll notice, Old Glory never touches the ground.

This is NOT a digitally reproduced print. Five woodblocks were hand-drawn, hand-carved, and hand-printed together to make the image of "AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL" above. We'll be posting more photos of the blocks soon--along with a key detailing the print's content.

Given the time and energy that went into making them, $425 for the print is a downright steal: Link

Previously on Neatorama: How Books Were Made


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Thanks for writing about us!
just a few quick clarifications:

The black and white block was ready for the show in 2 weeks time--the color blocks took 2-4 extra months (at a bit slower pace)

When we made the black and white block, on such a short deadline, we literally sat side-by-side drawing and cutting for about 12-16 hours a day each. This was no small feat.

Thanks again!
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