In 1960 Barbara Howard added wood engraving to her repertoire of media when she and her husband, the poet Richard Outram, launched the Gauntlet Press. For 30 years she produced small engravings in collaboration with Outram’s poems, publishing numerous small books and broadsides. Together they printed the work on a small Adana letterpress, then Howard bound the books by hand. These books are prized by collectors and can be found in many public collections such as the National Library of Canada, the Library of Congress, the British Library, the University of Toronto Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library and the Rare Books Collection of the Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Writing about Howard’s wood engravings in her 2006 essay for Canadian Art, titled Drawing Attention: Barbara Howard’s Ecologies, the artist, curator and academic Martha Fleming states:
“Wood engraving is a demanding process, and Howard was a virtuoso. [The creatures she portrayed] echo the floating, frameless engravings pioneered by Thomas Bewick in the 18th century, and yet they are startlingly modern. As much about form as they are about anatomical accuracy, they hover at the brink of typology but have nothing of zoological rendering’s reduction to taxonomy. Her counterintuitive use of colour upholds the monochrome dignity inherent in the technique.”