Tabula Smaragdina

Follow the work in progress on this new print, starting with the woodcut of the main image.

Mercury woodblock

initial drawing

The illustration was adapted from the original, but all the details and shadowing  on the figure were copied. (August 17, 2022)

The self-challenge woodcut and letterpress print

This print is a challenge in many senses, from the woodcut image, considering the details and complexity of the original drawing; to the final print with text, which, at the time of the writing of these lines*, is not planned. The idea is to print a broadside with one of the Latin versions of the Tabula Smaragdina, or the Emerald Tablet,  a cryptic alchemical text, probably the most famous of the Hermetic tradition. 

To illustrate the text, a woodcut of the God Mercury, or Hermes, was chosen. The original drawing is from Lucas Cranach the Younger, from ca. 1150-1570. A copy of the original print is held by the British Museum and available online.

We step into the 16th century at Prelo Prints for the first time!

This might be the whitest block of linden wood ever, and despite its whiteness (which contributes nothing to the end result), it's far from being the right wood choice for this kind of detail. However, this was intentional to see how much I could achieve with this specific block.

I would guess that 90% of the work so far has been done with the knife, and not so much with the gouges (of which I'm mainly using the small v 12 and u 11 from Pfeil).

Stay tuned for more updates as the project unfolds.

*September 2022

Mercury woodcut print - original print

original print

Woodcut and Lettepress print. Ca. 1550-1570

© The Trustees of the British Museum

Mercury woodcut - WIP


90% of the work so far has been done with the knife, and not so much with the gouges.(September 6, 2022)