In multiple-block printing, the key block (aka outline block) is the first block to be carved and proofed. This is because, at least using one method of multiple-block printing, the key block is needed first, in order to print and correctly transfer the outline image onto the other blocks so they can be carved in alignment with other expressions of color and design elements — the way a cartoonist first draws the outline of a cartoon, then fills in the colors.
In reduction printing the key carving is often, at least when outlines are an element of the illustration, the last carving of one single block to be executed. This is because all of the other expressions of color and design need to be carved from the block first, in a calculated sequence, then whittled down until nothing but the outline remains. The prints made during the printing process look not unlike a multi-colored, half-Rorschach-inkblot test before a subject is asked to draw an outline of an image onto such an inkblot to illustrate to the tester what the subject sees in the inkblot.
(Admittedly, this is a stretch, but the imagery generated here represents us doing our little part to help to keep brain cells happily employed all over the world.)
Then of course, there is the all-important printing of the word “Persimmon” using antique metal type, that also occurs just prior to this juncture. Set type. Ink. Print.
To summarize: in multiple-block printing the key block signifies the beginning; in reduction printing, as for Persimmons, the key block signifies the end, the grand finale, the cap being removed from the bottle of Tilted Shed Hard Apple Cider. Let the fireworks begin!
Stay tuned to see the succession of printing results, including the final print and answers to some F.A.Q.s (Frequently Asked Questions).
Meanwhile, click here to learn about the previous carving of Persimmon.