Friday, 25 March 2011

Collagraph Printing

One of the great things about doing an art degree is that you get to try out lots of techniques not directly related to your core subject.

I have really been enjoying experimenting with collagraph printing.  Having worked so much with textiles I have bags full of lovely little scraps of textured fabric and fibres that I simply cannot bear to throw away, and making collagraph plates has been the perfect opportunity to put some of them to good use.

My plates are simply a small square of thick cardboard onto which I have glued little scraps of texture. Once the glue is dry the plates need to be coated with varnish to seal them - I use shellac because it's nice and thin and dries quickly.

Then it's a matter of experimenting with applying the ink - some plates work better with the ink applied to the high points, some work better with the ink applied all over and then wiped off the high points.  The ink is oil based and rather sticky - quite different from anything I have worked with before.  The paper is soaked, placed on top of the inked up plate and sent through the printing press and you never quite know what will come out the other side.  One of the trickiest things is getting the plate and paper lined up so you don't get a wonky print - I've had to practise that!

Cue lots and lots of photos -a bit repetitive - I hope you don't get bored!

I couldn't resist doing a bit of stitching on this one!  The next one I added some water based colour afterwards.

And I did some not-black ones too - although I wasn't very adventurous with the colour!

One of the other fun things is to put the plate through the press without any ink at all, to emboss it onto the paper.

And here it is with just a bit of ink...

I've been back in the print room today, I'm just waiting for a whole new set of prints to dry now...


  1. I love these :) I enjoyed doing collagraphs when we did our printmaking unit at college - such fun!

  2. Nice work. Lucky you, I did some collagraphs last year at City Lit and used an embossed one in a book I made. Just a bit frustrating that its not a technique that works well without a press.

  3. I love your ideas, I to love to experiment with all types of "art". Must try these myself. x

  4. They're stunning Helen! I can see landscapes, mountains, seashores - and all from what the uninitiated might call scrap.

  5. Love, love, LOVE!!! And so jealous - what fabulous fun :))

  6. Hello . Thanks for following my blog. I was just having a look at yours. Have a look at my friend Amy Chapman....she makes lovely collagraph plates, and sometimes frames the plates not the prints!


Helen Smith, artist and maker in glass, print and stitch.


Related Posts with Thumbnails