The other day I was interrupted in my woodblock carving by a telephone call. During the call the doorbell rang, and after hanging up quickly I found myself talking in the genkan with an unexpected visitor. He left just as it was time for me to go shopping for dinner supplies ... One thing led to another like this all afternoon, and it was evening before I was able to get back to my workbench.
When I did, I found that when I had been interrupted earlier in the day, I had forgotten to take the woodblock off the workbench and lean it up against the wall. As a result, it was now horribly warped, and perhaps this print would be spoiled.
Although the woodblocks we printmakers use are actually 'dead', taken from trees that have been cut down, they are still 'living' pieces of wood. They breath in and out, and absorb and emit moisture as the temperature and humidity in the air around them changes. A woodblock that is not in use must be leaned up at an angle against the wall, so that air can reach both sides. If it is left lying flat on the workbench, only one side can breath. This is what had happened to me. During the six or seven hours that the block was lying flat on the bench, on a very dry winter day, it had lost moisture from the top surface only, and was now warped into a curved 'cup' shape.
I had been careless, forgetting that a woodblock can be a very 'jealous' partner. If you don't treat 'her' politely ... if you run off to spend time with other people without tending to her needs properly ... she will make big trouble!