Printing a 5ft wood block

Part 3: Off to Chicago!

colorful sky behind skyscraper in Chicago, Ill

**This is part 3 of the story behind the “Hog Butcher for the World” woodcut. If you’d like to read them, here is Part 1 (the research) and Part 2 (cutting the block)

The skyline of downtown Chicago…there’s something magical about it, and when it first appears in the distance, I get this rush of adrenaline…a feeling of an adventure about to happen…the Big City.

This time though, there was an added level of wonder, after those images I’d seen of early 1900s Chicago…

The skyline…

Birds eye view of Michigan Avenue, Chicago, 1911

1911 view of Michigan Avenue from Wiki Commons

The Yards…

birds eye view of Chicago Union Stockyard, 1903

1903, Chicago Union Stockyards — George Lawrence, photographer (Library of Congress Photo)

The Livestock…

…and the miles of railroad and stock cars and lines of animals funneled into the buildings:

hogs walk down ramps from stock cars down into pens. Men stand on top of cars and gates supervising

Unloading the stock cars at Chicago Union Stock Yards, 1912 by John Chuckman from Chicago Nostalgia & Memorabilia

Making sausages…

Photo notes read: "Making link sausages with the aid of machines which stuff ten feet per second, Chicago, Ill." 1927, Library of Congress

Photo notes read: “Making link sausages with the aid of machines which stuff ten feet per second, Chicago, Ill.” 1927, Library of Congress

Now, those historical images were there too in my mind’s eye as I approached this destination, that at one time was literally, The Hog Butcher for the World: “From the Civil War until the 1920s and peaking in 1924, more meat was processed in Chicago than in any other place in the world.” Meatpacking, Encylopedia of Chicago.

And more from Wikipedia:
Eventually, the 375-acre (1.52 km2) site had 2300 separate livestock pens, room to accommodate 75,000 hogs, 21,000 cattle and 22,000 sheep at any one time…. Processing two million animals yearly by 1870,… nine million by 1890. Between 1865 and 1900, approximately 400 million livestock were butchered within the confines of the Yards.

Arriving at Hoofprint Workshop, Chicago

So with these images in the back of my mind, I pull up to Hoofprint and for a moment think, wait, what year is this?!?

photo of storefront of 'West Town Funeral Home'

West Town Funeral Home is really Hoofprint Workshop, Chicago. Photo by Liz Born.

Hoofprint Workshop inhabits a wonderful old building that used to be—as you can see—a funeral home. The wheeled carts that used to wheel around coffins, now wheel around litho stones, etc. Gabe and Liz have remade it into a fascinating, working printmaking studio. It’s a magical place.

Gabe Hoare, Master Printer

Gabe Hoare and Liz Born are the owners, artists, printmakers of this establishment. And Gabe is one heck of a Master Printer—inking the block perfectly for whatever substrate he is printing onto…

man inks 5ft woodblock while man and woman look on. framed artwork on walls

Gabe inks up one of the 40in x 60in blocks, this one by Raeleen Ko

Printing in Action!

Liz and Gabe printed the first canvas ones, so there would be some for the 40 x 60 show, and then they printed more canvas ones as orders came in. When I drove to Hoofprint later in November, to print the paper edition, printing with Gabe was a breeze. He inked up the blocks and I helped with the paper handling, etc. See it for yourself! This short Instagram video was taken by Raeleen Kao (Frozen Charlotte Press), a friend, fellow artist and printmaker extraordinaire I met while in grad school in 2010 or so. She also is the one who told me about this woodcut challenge, so if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have done this block:

So, in the video above, Gabe had previously inked the block, and set it up square on the press. Then with a 3rd set of hands, I helped guide the paper down, on top of the block while Gabe cranks the block + paper sandwich through the press. When the block and paper have gotten all the way through, then, as you see in the video above, we peel back the inked paper up and over the press, being careful not to let the paper touch the printed-though-still-inky block.

The Finished Print

Thanks to Gabe’s printing expertise, the prints turned out great. Here is the finished piece, on canvas, available for purchase at Hoofprint Workshop’s online shop.

woodcut of giant pig and text: 'Chicago...Hog Butcher for the World' by S.V. Medaris

Hog Butcher for the World, woodcut by S.V. Medaris, 60in x 40in printed on unsized canvas, $1,000 finished with grommets/$1,075 stretched on stretcher bars—ready for hanging, limited Edition of 10. See what the edge of the canvas looks like, below

Gallery wrapped woodcut on canvas of giant hog with text: 'Chicago...Hog Butcher for the World'

Gallery wrapped woodcut on canvas, approximately 62in x 42in….a close-up of the canvas, so you can see what the edge looks like, ready to hang without the need of a frame.


5 have sold, so there’s 5 left.

Email or call Hoofprint Workshop and talk to Liz if you have any questions: tel: 773-896-4326 / email:

Order online

You can order online at Hoofprint’s shop.

**NOTE: I’m driving to Chicago to get the wood block, canvas Artist’s Proof, etc on WEDNESDAY, DEC 9. If you live in Madison, WI area, and order a canvas print today or next couple of days (Dec.5,6,7), Hoofprint can probably gallery wrap yours and send it with me on Wed, so I can DELIVER it to you (ie-no shipping costs). Let me know at:


Want to see it in person? It’s (and some of the other fabulous 5ft prints are) showing this month in Chicago:

    •At Hoofprint Workshop
    —by appointment, and at Hoofprint’s celebration: Wassail! A Vagabond’s Christmas, a Holiday Show on Saturday, Dec 12th, 2015.
    Address: 2433 S Oakley Ave, Chicago, IL 60608

    •At Simone’s Bar & Grill
    —in The Laboratory until Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015.
    Address: 960 W 18th, Chicago, IL 60608.

3 5ft woodcut prints on wall with people in foreground

Opening Reception for the 60 x 40 Woodcut Challenge Opening Reception, Oct. 24, 2015 at Hoofprint Workshop. Aren’t they amazing together—so huge! The fabulous graphic print on your left is one of my favorites. It’s by the amazing Antonio Martinez of Cobalt Studio. The one on your right is by the fabulous Gabriel Villa.

And here are some of the fabulous woodcuts up at Simone’s (until Dec. 9):

Join us tomorrow (Sunday) night at @simones_bar for a drink before karaoke at 8! Check out these sick woodcuts if you haven’t had a chance yet. ‪#‎hoofprintwoodcutchallenge‬ ‪#‎svmedaris‬ ‪#‎antoniomartinez‬ ‪#‎gabrielvilla‬ ‪#‎johnhimmelfarb‬ ‪#‎nicoletteross‬ ‪#‎printmaking‬ ‪#‎chicagoart‬ ‪#‎blackandwhite‬ ‪#‎woodcut‬ @svmedaris @cobaltstudio @nicrossdaboss

Posted by Hoofprint Workshop on Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Paper Edition

Did you check out the short Instagram video above? That was one of the paper ones we were printing. I’m picking up the paper edition on Wednesday, Dec. 9 from Hoofprint as well. Once I go through every one and figure out how many good prints I have, I’ll make them available at my shop and studio. The edition will be close to 10, and will sell for $1,300 each, unframed. Want to see one in person? I will probably have one framed and available at Artisan Gallery later in December.

7 thoughts on “Printing a 5ft wood block

  1. Hi- I bought the print at Artisans (they were nice enough to work with me on a payment plan). I went in with my husband back in September. Before going into the gallery we swore up and down that we weren’t going to buy any art that day and then I came around the corner and saw Hog Butcher and knew I’d break my promise. We just picked it up last weekend from the gallery and I bought their last poster from the Dog & Pony Show too. I really enjoyed reading the three part series on the this piece from idea to creation! We love it and once it’s up on our wall I’ll send you a picture.

    • Oh Paula, that’s awesome! So glad you were able to purchase it–it was definitely a fun one to research and produce. Thank you so much for letting me know about it. I’ll start posting again on this blog soon, and will share upcoming blocks production. Thank you for supporting Market Weight Press!

    • Thank you so much for writing Paula! I’ve been overwhelmed with work(s) and haven’t had a chance to write here. Means so much that you enjoyed reading about the print and process (and that I need to get back at it!) Thank you so much for visiting Abel Contemporary and supporting the arts!

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