2023 Wood Materials Engraving in Traditional Chinese Handicraft Materials research achievements release






"Wood and engraving" is the fourth research topic of the Wood Materials Research project of traditional Chinese materials after "Wood cutting", "Wood dyeing", and "Wood and lacquer". The Ugan concept exclusively supports the Rong Design Library as a wood material expert and participates in the research. Deconstruct the production process of engraving from the four parts of "Board-carving-plate-printing" and explore the plasticity of engraving in contemporary design. 



Traditional "copying"technology




Before the advent of engraving, the dissemination of information mainly relied on hand-copied texts, which was time-consuming and expensive, and required extremely high accuracy.The emergence of engraving has replaced hand-copying as the traditional "copyingmedium, making the conversion of pictures and images more efficient, and the dissemination effect of books, portraits, etc. has increased.Engraving has satisfied people's demand for large-scale reproduction of images and texts. It's an important medium for promoting cultural dissemination and a model for traditional handicrafts to promote the development of human spiritual civilization.


Engraving is a traditional plane copying technique that manually carves pictures and texts on the board material and repeatedly transfers them on the substrate. It is a comprehensive process combining engraving and printing and dyeing.As a widely used material in engraving, wood is rich in forms and diverse application scenarios due to its geographical distribution and plate characteristics. It exerts its cultural attributes beyond the material itself and is an important carrier of folk culture in various parts of China.

Production process of engraving “board-carving-plate-printing”





This time, the Ugan concept team and the Rong Design Library team visited many region across the country with "Wood and engraving" as the research theme.










During the investigation, it was found that there are three main changes in engraving: from “material” to “board”, “board” to “version”, “version” to “printing”, the raw materials are first pretreated and then engraved, and then the process of transfer is completed after the engraving. According to the changes in the plate and the processing technology, it can be summarized into four parts: “board-carving-plate-printing”.









A good woodcarving plate can be circulated all the time, so it is very particular about the selection of materials, requiring uniform texture, fine texture, and not easy to crack. There are common pear wood, boxwood, toon wood, jujube wood,  mandshurica, ginkgo wood, birch and so on.








In order to make the sheet more stable, it needs to be pretreated.Starting from cutting and peeling, the master will cut into the required size according to the characteristics and structure of different wood blocks, and make them easy to preserve by soaking, cooking, and drying. For example, the blue Jiaxie process in southern Zhejiang will soak the selected wood in water to achieve a stable effect.After planing, it is polished to a smooth surface before the next step of engraving can be carried out.








Carving is a concentrated manifestation of the craftsmanship of engraving. Craftsmen first apply samples before carving, which can be divided into two types: direct sample application and paper coated sample application. For example, for wooden movable type, direct sample application involves writing the required text directly on a small wooden block with a brush before carving. For others, after completing the draft, paste is applied to the surface, and the final pattern of the paper is pasted onto the board surface before engraving.









When carving, the tools required are very fine, and there will be professional carving tools for different patterns, textures, thicknesses, etc.A piece of wood undergoes chiseling, carving, picking, shoveling, and scraping to leave different traces on the board.










After the engraving is completed, a version that can be used for “printing” is obtained.The patterns and forms of the plate are diverse. The Naxi Dongba Sutra Edition imprinted the natural aesthetics of Dongba culture in the scriptures and images, recording the migration, farming, labor and folk beliefs of this ancient region.Dali Xizhou Jiama is a folk woodcut printmaking art with mysterious colors. There are generally birds and beasts, mountains, rivers, lakes and seas. It is mostly used to pray for blessings and eliminate disasters, highlighting the simple beauty of all things in nature.As a traditional wedding must-have in southern Zhejiang, blue Jiaxie mostly sustains good wishes with auspicious patterns.Wooden movable type will be extended to the compilation of some genealogies and is a symbol of inheritance.









Printing is to realize the transition from craftsmanship to functionality.The transfer process includes brush printing, Gonghua, seal printing, rubbing, injection dyeing, missed printing, type dyeing, clip dyeing and other types. Most of them follow the principle of mirroring, that is, the resulting pattern is the opposite of the content engraved on the plate.



Similar to the concept of seals, reverse text or patterns are carved on wooden boards, inked, cover with paper, and pressurized to obtain positive characters and patterns.This is the case with Wenzhou Ruian wooden movable type and Suzhou Taohuawu woodcut New Year paintings.







"Gonghua" is a unique skill of Chinese traditional watermark woodcut. The rice paper is covered on the Gonghua plate, padded with felt, and then the Gonghua hammer is used to add the layout graphics on the paper, so as to obtain a texture similar to relief.






The blue Jiaxie is used to make the dye solution reach every gap for dyeing and transfer.









The carving technique has carved a long ancient rhyme and blended poetry, calligraphy and painting on paper and silk, and its artistic charm and cultural heritage have been passed down from generation to generation.



2023 Research Achievements in Wooden Materials Engraving



融设计图书馆和感物团队基于对木版年画、木版水印、木活字、甲马、金石篆刻、雕版拓印、模戳印花、夹缬、蓝印花布等中国传统手工艺的研究与考察,从「板- 雕 - 版 - 印」四个维度解构「雕版」的材料与工艺,得到「融研究图 · 木与雕版」手册。


Based on the research and investigation of traditional Chinese handicrafts such as woodcut New Year paintings, woodcut watermarks, wooden movable type, Jiama, Jinshi seal carving, engraving, die stamp printing, Jiaxie, and blue printed cloth, the Rong Design Library and the Ugan concept team deconstructed the materials and techniques of "engraving" from the four dimensions of "board-carving-plate-printing", and obtained the manual "Rong Research Map· Wood and Engraving".




融研究图 · 木与雕版」手册还原了从板材处理、上样、雕刻的工序,「板」成为「版」,再通过不同转印工艺在承印物上进行印染直至获得印物的过程,对各个步骤采用的技艺以及使用的工具进行了展示,将雕版这种传统技法通过文字保留下来。

The manual "Fusion Research Diagram ·Wood and Engraving" restores the process from plate processing, loading, and engraving. The "plate" becomes the "plate", and then the process of printing and dyeing on the substrate through different transfer processes until the print is obtained. The techniques used in each step and the tools used are displayed, and the traditional technique of engraving is preserved through text.


Based on the above research, Rong Design Library experimented with traditional transfer methods such as printing, seal printing, leakage printing, type dyeing, clip dyeing, and injection dyeing. Wood plank, slabstone, ceramic, and cardboard were selected as the plates to produce a set of engraving material samples.


Brush printing: Taking wooden boards as an example, the production process includes sample loading, wood carving, shoveling, and brush printing.






Seal: Made of stone and ceramic plates, the production process of the stone plate includes sampling, carving, and seal; The ceramic plate is fired after being sampled and carved on the ceramic billet, and can be stamped after soaking treatment.






Leakage printing: also known as hole plate leakage printing, using paper plates to carve patterns into hole plates, characterized by positive printing. Fix the cloth surface under the layout, spray color on the layout, and air dry to complete the printing process.



Type dyeing: Using cardboard as a board to make a hollowed out version, covering it on the cloth surface, brushing and applying an anti dyeing agent composed of soybean powder or glutinous rice paste mixed with lime, drying and repeatedly dipping to achieve the desired effect, and finally cleaning the anti dyeing agent to complete printing and dyeing.




Clip dyeing: Fold the cloth face and clip it in the hollow flower version, fix it with a fixture, and place it in a dyeing vat for multiple dips. The dye solution is dyed through the recessed part to create a symmetrical pattern. After dyeing, it is air dried, the fixture and layout are removed, and the printing and dyeing are completed after air drying.




Injection dyeing: The technique of fixing the fabric between two plates, tightly fixing it with fixtures, and injecting dye through the holes in the plate. After the fabric is colored, Steaming by separating water, remove the fixing parts, and dye injection is completed. Injection dyeing can be applied multiple times, with rich colors and a stronger sense of layering.




Through the study of engraving, we will jointly explore more possibilities of engraving of traditional handicrafts in contemporary design.








2023 Exhibition of Wood Materials and Engraving Research Achievements of Traditional Chinese Handicraft Materials

展览时间 Exhibition time


展览地点 Exhibition venue


Rong Design Library, Qingshan Village, Yuhang District, Hangzhou