This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Senseshaper's Woodcuts
  • The First Cuts are the Deepest: Senseshaper’s (Zachary Fisher’s) First Months of Woodcutting

What started as a way to occupy myself as I grappled with whether or not I wanted to continue pursuing my PhD in Renaissance Literature from the University of Virginia has transformed into a mild obsession. As any of you know who are friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter will know by now, about two months ago I started cutting wood.1 Even since my earlier post, I have improved my skills, have finally purchased professional grade tools, and have become a little more daring in my designs. This post will be composed of a collection of prints made during my first two months of my woodcutting hobby, and I hope I will continue to add similar posts every month to chart my progress and development.2

Some have encouraged my obsession and insanity by inquiring about buying prints. I have finally caved to the pressure and have set up an Etsy site, and you can find details about that site at the bottom of this post.3 But first, my first few months of woodcutting:

I. The early woodcuts

Woodcut Print, "I Want You," with Darth Vader as Uncle Sam. Classic propaganda.

Woodcut Print, “I Want You,” with Darth Vader as Uncle Sam. Classic propaganda.

Woodcut print, "Ren Lyfe: Player," from whiteboard woodblock. My first early modern subject featuring William Shakespeare.

Woodcut print, “Ren Lyfe: Player,” from whiteboard woodblock. My first early modern subject featuring William Shakespeare.

Woodcut Print. "Support Our Troops," from woodblock on Antique laid paper. Even the Galactic Empire and the Stormtroopers had their patriotic supporters.

Woodcut Print. “Support Our Troops,” from woodblock on Antique laid paper. Even the Galactic Empire and the Stormtroopers had their patriotic supporters.

Hemingway woodcut print, "I Love It When You Call Me Big Papa," from whiteboard woodblock.

Hemingway woodcut print, “I Love It When You Call Me Big Papa,” from whiteboard woodblock.

Woodcut print, "Keep Calm and Hobbesian Nature On," from whiteboard woodblock.

Woodcut print, “Keep Calm and Hobbesian Nature On,” from whiteboard woodblock.

Woodcut print, "Heisenberg: El Diablo Blanco" Breaking Bad wanted poster from whiteboard woodblock. This version in water based ink.

Woodcut print, “Heisenberg: El Diablo Blanco” Breaking Bad wanted poster from whiteboard woodblock. This version in water based ink.

Woodcut print, "Ideology: It's A Trap," from whiteboard woodblock.

Woodcut print, “Ideology: It’s A Trap,” from whiteboard woodblock.

Woodcut print, "Zizek: Ideology and So On," from whiteboard woodblock and printed in oil on 100% cotton paper.

Woodcut print, “Zizek: Ideology and So On,” from whiteboard woodblock and printed in oil on 100% cotton paper.

Woodcut print, "Nietzsche: I Teach You the Overman," from whiteboard woodblock, and printed in oil on 100% cotton paper.

Woodcut print, “Nietzsche: I Teach You the Overman,” from whiteboard woodblock, and printed in oil on 100% cotton paper.

Woodcut print, "Karl Marx: Fuck Your Class," from whiteboard woodblock and printed in oil on 100% cotton paper.

Woodcut print, “Karl Marx: Fuck Your Class,” from whiteboard woodblock and printed in oil on 100% cotton paper.

II. Real wood and getting better

Woodcut Print, "Beware the Cat," from poplar woodblock and printed in oil ink.

Woodcut Print, “Beware the Cat,” from poplar woodblock and printed in oil ink.

Woodcut print, "Benjaminian Grumpy Cat: Mechanical Reproduction," from choice pine woodblock and on Antique Laid cotton blend paper.

Woodcut print, “Benjaminian Grumpy Cat: Mechanical Reproduction,” from choice pine woodblock and on Antique Laid cotton blend paper.

Woodcut print, "Malcolm X: Come and Take It," from choice pine woodblock and in oil on 100% cotton paper.

Woodcut print, “Malcolm X: Come and Take It,” from choice pine woodblock and in oil on 100% cotton paper.

III. New tools and more experimentation

Woodcut print, "Obey Giant Capitalism; Or, Shepard Fairey is a Sellout," from choice pine woodblock, and printed in oil on 100% cotton paper.

Woodcut print, “Obey Giant Capitalism; Or, Shepard Fairey is a Sellout,” from choice pine woodblock, and printed in oil on 100% cotton paper.

Woodcut print, "Plague Doctor Mask: Et in Arcadia Ego," from choice pine woodblock, and printed in oil ink on 100% cotton paper.

Woodcut print, “Plague Doctor Mask: Et in Arcadia Ego,” from choice pine woodblock, and printed in oil ink on 100% cotton paper.

Woodcut print, "Guy Fawkes Anonymous Mask: All Your Base are Belong to Us," from choice pine woodblock, and printed in oil ink on 100% cotton paper.

Woodcut print, “Guy Fawkes Anonymous Mask: All Your Base are Belong to Us,” from choice pine woodblock, and printed in oil ink on 100% cotton paper.

Woodcut print, "Self-Portrait I: What's Your Phantasy," from poplar woodblock. Based on the ventricle man of Albertus Magnus and a partial copy of the ventricle man from The Noble Lyfe and Natures of Man.

Woodcut print, “Self-Portrait I: What’s Your Phantasy,” from poplar woodblock. Based on the ventricle man of Albertus Magnus and a partial copy of the ventricle man from The Noble Lyfe and Natures of Man.

Woodcut print, "Game of Thrones: Winter is Coming," from choice pine woodblock. Printed on Antique Laid paper.

Woodcut print, “Game of Thrones: Winter is Coming,” from choice pine woodblock. Printed on Antique Laid paper.

Woodcut print, "The Legend of Zelda," from choice pine woodblock, and printed on Antique Laid paper.

Woodcut print, “The Legend of Zelda,” from choice pine woodblock, and printed on Antique Laid paper.

IV. Christmas gifts

Risking becoming “that guy,” I decided to use my new hobby to make some homemade Christmas gifts for my wife and our family. My wife first asked me to make a woodcut of the University of Virginia’s (UVA’s) Rotunda, and it turned out much better than I’d hoped.

Woodcut prints of "The University of Virginia's (UVA) Rotunda" from whiteboard woodblock. The print was too large to get a high quality scan, so, for now, you will have to make due with this shot showing the print variations.

Woodcut prints of “The University of Virginia’s (UVA) Rotunda” from whiteboard woodblock. The print was too large to get a high quality scan, so, for now, you will have to make due with this shot showing the print variations.

I also wanted to make something for my wife, so I decided to make a woodcut for each state we have lived in either together or separately. The first, of Illinois, I made for my parents as a Christmas gift, but decided that they would look great as a set for my wife. I designed each first in Photoshop and then made a series of woodcuts featuring the state’s name nestled within the border of a state outline.

Woodcut print, "State Outlines: Illinois," from poplar woodblock.

Woodcut print, “State Outlines: Illinois,” from poplar woodblock.

Woodcut print, "State Outlines: Virginia," from poplar woodblock.

Woodcut print, “State Outlines: Virginia,” from poplar woodblock.

Woodcut print, "State Outlines: Ohio," from poplar woodblock.

Woodcut print, “State Outlines: Ohio,” from poplar woodblock.

Woodcut print, "State Outlines: Texas," from poplar woodblock.

Woodcut print, “State Outlines: Texas,” from poplar woodblock.

V. My first commission!

One of my wife’s friends saw the state outlines I made her, and offered me my first woodcut commission, making the state of North Carolina. If you like these and want to see me do one of your state, let me know and I can make one and put it up on my Etsy site.

Woodcut print, "State Outlines: North Carolina," from poplar woodblock on Antique Hand Laid paper.

Woodcut print, “State Outlines: North Carolina,” from poplar woodblock on Antique Hand Laid paper.

Visit my Etsy store.

For those of you who prefer the pure simulacra without an element of the Real:
Visit my Zazzle store.

  1. I discussed my early attempts in this post.  (back)
  2. Don’t worry though, this blog will still be populated by both digital essays on the early modern senses as well as the occasional absurdist early modern posts most likely involving GIFs, silly early modern memes, and ribaldry.  (back)
  3. Or you can click here to go directly to the Etsy shop now. It is still in development, but, if you so desire, you can order a selection of the prints I have made available. I’m willing to post others for sale, so if you see one that you want, just let me know either in an email or in the comments to this post, and I will post them for sale. I will also be digitizing my woodcuts and putting them up to my Zazzle store soon, so check there if you would prefer one of the woodcuts in T-Shirt form.  (back)
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