Sunday, 13 June 2010

How to make a collagraph - The Basics

I'm using this image as a basis for this starter piece on collagraphs. The base is mount board and the materials I used were:

  • PVA glue
  • Texture paste
  • carborundum
  • Gesso
  1. I used a sharp scalpel to cut into the top layer of card to creat my horizon line and made a similar cut to one side to the original ine lifting out the top layer of paper in between.
  2. I spread texture paste across the lower half with a palette knife manipulating the paste to create different textures. 
  3. While the paste was still damp I scattered carborundum over parts of this area then tapped off the excess.
  4. For the sky I mixed carborundum into the gesso which gives you more control over how the carborundum is distributed. Initially I only added a small amount in and then painted the gesso onto the board using a coarse brush so that the brush marks would be visible, gradually adding in more carbordundum to build up darker areas. 
  5. I put some gesso into a pipette to draw in the tree and after I drew it with gesso I scattered on carborundum over the top and tapped off the excess. (When doing this you have to wait for the other wet areas to dry first or you will get carborundum where you don't want it.)
  6. Once the plate was fully dry I sealed it with a coat of Johnson's Klear floor polish then inked it up in one colour and proofed it. 
  7. The foreground was too dark and I was very dissatisfied with it so I cleaned the plate off with vegetable oil finishing it off with a soft soapy clothe to remove as much grease as possible.
  8. Because it is impossible to completely remove all the grease I added dish washing liquid to the PVA which I used in the next stage then dribbled the PVA over the foreground and left it to dry. I may have also touched up places with carborundum and then sealed the plate again.
  9. This time I was much happier with the finished result and went on to print several versions of the same image.
A word on the inking process:
I vastly improved my inking technique following a workshop with Peter Wray. Under his guidance I discovered Hawthorne Print Supplies Stay Open inks which to me stand head and shoulders above any of the other inks we used previously and they do what it says on the tin ... they STAY OPEN and so there is no waste from skinning over. I mix the inks with a small quantity of linseed gel or oil to a double cream consistency. Then I apply the ink to the plate using stiff paint brushes (as used for oil painting) working the colour into the grooves, pits and troughs on the plate. A little ink goes a helluva long way.
Once the plate is inked up the excess is wiped off with cotton rag, NOT scrim or tarletan and NOT rag with any kind of napp to it. You can print at this stage or then polish back areas you want to highlight with pieces of tissue. 

And a word about the paper:
I use Fabriano Rosapina as it really moulds itself well round the plate. I usually dip half the paper I intend to use in water and interleave it between dry sheets, one wet, one dry, one wet and so on then wrap the paper in a sheet of plastic either right at the start of my studio session or overnight. 

When the plate is ready to print I place it on the press bed on a sheet of tissue, with a sheet of the damp Fabriano on top followed by another sheet of tissue and roll it through the press. Hey presto one print. There is no need to clean the plate when you are finished but if you want to change the colour palette it is best to leave the plate for at least a week before you attempt to print from it again otherwise the new colours will get adulterated by the old ones.

Finally, if there is anything in the posting that you've learned and then tried out for yourself it would be really interesting if you would submit a post with an image of the work you have done using the tips you picked up.


Unknown said...

Hello Carol !
I really apreciate your postings here and I
love your monotypies !

Thank you so much for posting this stuff !

Best from Liv

Anonymous said...

I have a new post "How to make a Drypoint Collograph" at Jo's Green Room -

Anonymous said...

Hi Carol.. Just a suggestion....perhaps once people have added a comment to advise of a new "how to" posting you could then edit your main "how to" post and add the details there so that it is visible on your main page and you can add the link that directs viewers the other "how to" posts, as not everyone always clicks to open the comments ?? What do you think ? Jo

Carols Original Prints said...

I think that's a very good idea Jo. Will do it later today with yours.

Unknown said...

Hi - can't seem to get carborundum here. Is there a substitute that I could use? Sand? Thanks. Lovemyour work.

Carols Original Prints said...

Hi Ingrid You don't say where here is. It is possible to use sand. Carborundum comes in different grades from fine to quite coarse. The same would apply to sand.

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