making collagraphs

collagraph, Undergrowth copyright Vivien Blackburn

I came across this collagraph that I did ages ago in a folder - it was languishing there because it wasn't a particularly good print.

So I worked on it with coloured pencil and Pitt pen - the coloured pencil takes really nicely on the Fabriano paper in a fuzzy way.

I'd shaped the plate slightly in this one, it isn't the plain oblong of the seahorses.

For those who don't know, collagraphs are made by cutting, peeling, incising and sticking stuff on to mount/matt card and then printing from it after varnishing it with shellac to protect it. Inking it up with oil based printing inks and as it's an intaglio process it needs a printing press or at least very high pressure to print it. I have thought of experimenting with a flower press but I'm not sure that the pressure would be even enough. I have heard of people putting the papers and printing plate between boards and driving over them - and they assured me it worked! I'm not sure what my neighbours would make of that!

I don't normally stick stuff on as it can be a bit coarse and tacky if you aren't careful. This one had string, net and sewing thread stuck on with pva glue, lines cut in (they print as a dark line), sand glued on to catch the ink and print dark and pva as a resist to create some lighter parts. Then it's inked up, most of the ink wiped off and put through a printing press to print on damp Fabriano Tiziano (velvety) paper. You don't know exactly what you've got until you peel the paper off the plate - always an nice moment

The second one I found was an incomplete print - I'd shared the printing press with someone (both of use putting our work through at the same time to save time and energy - the big wheel on the press has to be turned to wind the rollers and take the print through) and my print hadn't quite made it through :( so the left hand edge was slightly missing.

This one is done simply cutting and peeling and incising lines and pva as a resist for the lights, no other media and nothing stuck on. I really like doing collagraphs this way, there's more subtlety and I really like the velvety finish.

seahorses, collagraph, copyright Vivien Blackburn

I think this one is possibly saveable by trimming the left edge slightly and the right edge a little more, making it slimmer and rebalancing it.

You can see a seascape collagraph in an earlier post here



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