Ok, on to inking your block and printing. You need a lot less ink than you think when you come to actually printing. The key here is to be fairly frugal with the amount of ink that you apply to your block. Add too much ink and you can end up filling in your diligently carved channels so that the final print doesn't come out with quite the sharp contrast that you'd intended between light and dark areas. Remember, if you put too little on, you can always fix it by applying a little more. It's harder to do the reverse.
The first part of the process involves laying out a layer of ink on your piece of glass. No, you don't apply the ink directly from the tube to the block! Putting the ink on the glass first means that you are then in a bit of control of the process, which is a pleasant illusion. You can then work on getting a really clean layer onto the roller, and then onto the block.
Take your sheet of glass and put a blob of ink in the middle, about the size of a reasonably proportioned bean (I'm thinking of the English runner bean, here - again, probably better to look at the pictures if you're not familiar with our vegetables). Take the roller, and start rolling the ink in one direction, then at right angles, then back to the original direction and so on. The goal is to get a regular, rectangular layer of ink on the glass, whilst also making sure that your roller is consistently covered.
Once you think you've got your roller completely covered in a (thin) layer of ink, carefully roll it over the block. I roll it along the length of the block first, then do it across the width. Strictly speaking you should only have to do it once in each direction, but I've sometimes (i.e. often) had to go back over it again with a second roll, just to make sure I've got the ink right up to the edge of the block.
Once you've got the ink on the block (congratulations, by the way!) you're ready to print it out onto paper. You basically put the sheet of paper that you want to print onto ON TOP OF the woodblock, which is ink side up, obviously, then you use the spoon to rub the paper down onto the block, as if you were doing a brass rubbing
. That's actually probably yet another useless British reference. You're just rubbing with a spoon, though. Not hard to picture.
I don't have a scientific method for lining up the paper with the block (I don't have a scientific method for anything, actually). I tend to eyeball it. You could, if you want, figure out roughly where the paper needs to be by lining everything up first in some sort of jig, or measuring everything out, or whatever method you want to use. I don't tend to worry about it because the paper I use tends to be bigger than the picure frames I'm putting the images in, so I can line everything up afterwards and trim off what isn't going to show.
I'm not that happy with my printing attempt in the image below. This was actually my first attempt with the water based inks that I mentioned in step 1. It's a little patchy. Water based ink seems to need more rubbing down to adhere to the paper. Rubbing down with the spoon can actually take some practice, and you need to make sure you're even all over, and work right up to the edge to avoid the patchiness that I've so clearly illustrated can be a problem.