Welcome to my PRINTMAKING RESOURCES section. This page is intended to: 

  • Inform 
  • Teach 
  • Share 
my practice and that of other printmakers whose work I admire.

I will not only attempt to inform you of what is involved in the many printmaking processes I use but if you have any questions about the detail I will try to answer your queries. AND I will invite other printmakers whose work I admire to share their knowledge, practice and skills from time to time.

My first addition to the page is COLLAGRAPHS, the media with which I work consistently. I'm not going to re-invent the wheel and write the collagraph basics out myself. The next section comes from

BUT rather than just copy in the link and let you get on with it I have added detail about what I do. My contribution is in red.
3 collagraph plates 4 x 4 cm in Triptych by Carol Nunan (overall size 15 x 6 cm approx.)
  • Plate 1 made using texture paste and blow torch + line work using drypoint needle.
  • Plate 2 made using Acrylic gesso, incised lines in mount card and carborundum painted or dusted over the wet gesso
  • Plate 3 made using gesso squirted through a nozzle to form the line work with carborundum dusted over the top then carborundum mixed in with PVA and painted on to the background.
  • Plates inked and printed using chin colle hand made paper onto Fabriano Rosapina

Collagraphs/Collage Blocks
A Collagraph print is a collage printmaking technique and is a form of Intaglio printing. The collagraph plate is printed in the same way as etchings, but also include the basic principle of relief printing and can be printed either as intaglio or relief.

The term collagraph refers to a collage board where the materials are assembled on a flat base or plate (matrix) to form a relief block with different surface levels and textures.

Collagraph plates are created by sticking and gluing materials like textured paper or fabric onto the plate and then coat it with varnish or acrylic medium afterwards to protect the materials. 

I have been sealing my plates with Johnson's Klear Floor polish (or Future in the USA) which dries within minutes if you use a hair drier. However, I believe it  is about to be discontinued so we will have to find a suitable alternative. I also use shellac if I want the plate to be a little bit more robust and it too dries quickly (though not quite as quickly as Klear).

The plate can be made from wood plates or cardboard plates that you build up using different materials. 

I use mounting board. It comes with a smooth surface or textured surfaces. These print beautifully. I also use .8mm wood ply. The advantage of are not only the robust nature of the plate but my prints get the benefit of the wood grain texture.

Collagraph Texture Samples

The Collagraph Printing Process:

Many artists prefer to use thin wood plates (about 4-6 mm) because they are easier to work with and do not bend as easily as cardboard plates. Wood plates also lasts longer than cardboard and are more solid. However, any base can be used, from cardboard to acetate, as long as it is not too thick and can have materials glued on to it.

The collage should not be to thick and the materials should not contain any sharp edges as it might ruin both the paper and the press. 

Collagraphs printmaking can be a very interesting way of working mainly because of the many different effects that can be created and the great variation in texture you can get from using different materials.
Collagraph brush marksYou can use paint, glue, leaves, fabric and almost anything with texture that are flat enough to not rip the paper when you print it.

The materials you apply to the plate will determine the tone and strengths of the ink, and will also give you a variation of textures. 

Absorbent materials might have to be inked up and printed a couple of times before the the full impression comes through. 
OR the sealant you use and the number of coats you apply can also determine the tone and strength of the ink. In fact sometimes by adding more than one coat of sealant you can bring out more of the contrast in texture and tone that resides on the plate.

Texture Examples:
Different types of paper and cardboard.
Eg. Tissue paper, crepe paper and japanese paper. The paper can be ripped up or cut and glued on to cover areas in the design. 

If using mount board you can start there by incising into the board surface with a sharp knife and lifting out the top layer of paper. For a rough edge you just nick the surface and then pull off the layer.
Any object that can be glued to the plate.
Either pressed into glue/paint to create an offprint texture or glued on to be embossed in the paper when printed.
Acrylic paints and acrylic textures. Glosspaint and varnish.
Different brush strokes will create a variation of texture. Also paletteknifes and sponges can be used.

Or you can press things like leaves or grasses or fabric into them. Experiment by either leaving them there or lifting them to see what kind of impression is left behind. I find texture paste is really good for this. There are cheaper alternatives but they all have their own characteristics and therefore you will get some variation in the way things print. Carborandum is also a good choice if you would like to print something completely black (or any other ink colour)
Other interesting materials can be string, tread, fabric, leafs, peas, rice and masking tape. I sometimes take a blow torch (like the small kitchen ones you use for burning the sugar on top of creme caramel) to burn the plate edges and surfaces. If you are going to do this please take great care, I work out of doors and have heavy duty gloves  to hold the plate I and I wear a mask to protect myself. You can get fantastic textures from burning things like texture paste and PVA glue whilst they are still wet because they bubble up and do strange things.

Different textures and substances can also be combined on one plate.

When the plate is finished, it should be sealed with varnish and left to dry overnight (depending on the drying time) and then it's ready to be proofed.

The plate is then printed in the same way as an intaglio plate using an flat bed intaglio press. The number of impressions (prints) that can be created from a collagraph plate depends on the materials used.

Many different plates can also be printed on top of each other, one colour for each plate. The effect can give the print a lot of depth, especially if you use a lot of transparency in the ink. Since each plate have a different design, the colour from the last plate will come through and you end up with a multi-coloured result.

The printing of Collagraphs is a whole new section to which I will add my take on it in the next 'chapter'

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