Home » Carving Grotesque

Carving Grotesque

My latest project is the first of my Grotesque Series. Eventually I will carve a collection of enlarged, woodcut versions of medieval marginal grotesques. The word “grotesque” in medieval manuscripts refers to the strange, fantastic, and/or distorted figures that populated the margins of the manuscript pages.

I actually just finished carving this block, but here is a photo of it half completed.

The original version of this creature can be found in the Hours of Catherine of Cleves, a Flemish manuscript illuminated circa 1440. He appears in the bottom, right-hand corner of the page depicting St. Augustine (p. 245).

The original grotesque’s size is quite tiny:

1 1/8”w x 1 1/4”h

I have enlarged my little creature to 4″x4″ and given more definition. I also provided him with instruments of imprisonment.

The other little change I made was to carve him on linoleum rather than my usual resingrave. In the past I have always disliked linoleum. I find it just like carving a big eraser. There is much less control and it is much more difficult to create tiny details. The one benefit to linoleum is that it is MUCH easier to carve way large blank areas.

My experience carving this grotesque reaffirmed my dislike of linoleum, but it did take me much less time to carve than it otherwise would have.

I will post more pictures soon!