Printmaking studio class – Collagraph #2

During January-February-March 2023 I took a printmaking class at Abington Art Center in Abington, PA. I have some experience of printmaking, primarily relief printing with linoleum, and we did some work of this type during the sessions. In addition, this class exposed me to several other methods of making prints. I’ll give you my experiences in a series of posts.

Here’s my next attempt at collagraph work. (Look here for a fuller explanation of the process and how my first effort turned out.)

At home, I created a plate. The background was cardboard salvaged from the back of a sketchbook pad and was nice and solid. The elements of the scene were cut from an ad card mailer (the kind you get in the mail advertising lawn services, window installation, political candidate messages, etc.) and was thin with a shiny surface. Once again, I did not seal the plate, preferring that the background and the scene elements take up the ink differently.

For most of the image, I set down only one layer of ad card cardboard, but in a few places, I then added another layer on top, such as the drawers on the table or the dots on the sofa back. I wanted more detail but was conscious of the need not to build up the surface too much.

Here’s my plate (after having been inked a few times; I didn’t take a photo of it before it went to work). It’s about 5.5″ x 8.5″.

Once I took the plate to class, I was able to make my prints. Again, I used the intaglio method of printing, which means that the ink is spread on the plate and wiped off the raised surfaces. The part that prints on paper will be the ink left in the recesses and lower part of the plate.

Print #1:

As the first print, the ink transfers unevenly, but I really like the effect. I did a pretty good job of wiping the raised surfaces to get the contrast I wanted; the slickness of the ad card cardboard really was my friend here!

Print #2

You’ll notice the ink color is different from the first print (and it will be for all the others, too). That is because for each print I took the ink left on my mixing plate and added a random color and got another…random color. Why did I do this? I just felt like it.

Anyway, to my eye, there is not enough contrast between background and the elements of the scene. Do a better wiping of raised areas next time, I told myself.

I also noticed that there were some blobs where I left too much ink on the plate. Another area to improve.

Print #3

This print, I like. Good contrast and no blobs.

Print #4

I’m pretty happy with this print, too, except for the areas of thicker ink in a couple of places. Still, I don’t think they detract too much from the overall look.

Print #5.

Class was ending as I did this print, but I tried not to rush through the inking process. I think it worked out fine. I like this print too. I still see excess ink (to my eye) next to the table leg and at first I was a bit peeved about it.

But, in looking over all the prints, I see it happening in each one. It just seems to be something about the way this plate works. Having come to that conclusion, I stopped being aggravated about it and instead just sat back and enjoyed the group!

Here are all the prints together:

12 thoughts on “Printmaking studio class – Collagraph #2

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you, I love depicting furniture and houses and so on. Printing is fun, it stretches your art muscles in a way different from drawing or painting. And…that reversing thing, it’s so easy to lose sight of that in making an image for printing, especially when there is writing in it…and you forget to make sure you have it correct so that it reads the right way when you are done (can you tell I have done this???)

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Yes, it’s easy to make an image and of course the materials are very simple. I can see lots of ways to proceed in printing experiments just from the small amount of it I have done.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you, I love doing images of furniture and I think every item has a personality that is fun to try to depict. To me a room full of furniture is like a group of people.

  1. Laura (PA Pict)

    I LOVE this print, Claudia! I am not keen on the pink hued one (not enough contrast, as you noted) but I think all of the other prints are roaring successes. I also really like your plate design and think the subject works really well for this technique. Fantastic stuff!

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I was really happy with how this image turned out as I think it was a nice picture and it took to printing well. I learned a lot from it as well as to how to construct a plate, I felt more confident after I had done this series.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. These are really a lot of fun to do and I like the combination of collage and printing, it make me think about my work a bit differently.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      I found this technique really promoted just what you said – they are of course very similar but never alike, and the printmaker can control some of that, too.

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