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.
Now we come to my third and final (for now) attempt at collagraph work. (Look here for a fuller explanation of the process and how my first efforts turned out.)
Preparing a printing plate
I built my plate at home so as to be able to print as soon as I got to class.
Once again, I used part of the back of a used-up sketch pad for my base. To form the image, I expanded my materials: Cereal box cardboard; paper from a sales brochure (which is thinner than the cardboard and thicker than regular paper); and blue painter’s tape.
Here is the plate (finally I remembered to take a photo before I put any ink on it):
As you may be able to tell, I have layered the materials, especially in the suns and the figure – they are made of the paper pasted over the cardboard. I hope to get a little bit of a line where the paper doesn’t totally cover the cardboard.
I inked the plate using the intaglio method, as I have done before. During this process, I realized a couple of things. I’d been a bit sloppy in gluing down my person and the suns, and parts of them were lifting. That is not a good thing, so I tried to reattach them, with what success you will see.
Also, I should have used regular masking tape, not the less-sticky painter’s tape. The blue tape lifted in some spots and so I just pulled it off where that happened.
Here is the plate after it has been printed a couple of times. You can see there is a bit of wear and tear, such as on the face and fingers. Note to self: take more care in attaching the elements next time.
I’ll show you all four prints I did at one time and discuss them as a group. I have arranged them in the order that I did them.
What do I think of these prints?
Overall, I’m pretty happy with them. I marvel at how the taped section reproduced itself with some texture and so clearly; who knew such a tiny bit of elevation could actually do so much?
I’m also really pleased with how the layering of cardboard and brochure paper worked. There is a nice double outline in a lot of places. And, I was also happy with the person’s face – I had wondered if such small details as the fingers and the mouth would work out.
What I’m not happy about are some ink blobs (images 1 and 3). My teacher and I discussed it and we are not sure why they happened, but…I suspect that my sloppy gluing-down of the elements might have allowed some ink to go under them and then it was forced out under the pressure of the plate. Well, it’s ok. I learned something, and the blobs don’t mar the results too much.
Collagraph printing was the sleeper hit of this class for me. It allows me to make a collage, with all the enjoyment I have in doing this medium, and then sends it in a new direction. Not only did I need to think of the look of the composition but also the way it was constructed. My choices had to lead to a good collage image that would also work in a printing process. I really enjoyed this challenge.
I hope that sometime I will be able to explore this technique further.
This print is fantastic! It is so full of energy and is completely your style while being in a different medium. I really think you have experienced a great deal of success with collagraphy. I do hope you will keep pursuing this technique.
Thank you. I was really surprised by how much I liked collagraphy. I do think it fits in well with my existing skills and yet there is a whole new level of exploration. I also hope I will get to try this technique again sometime.
I agree. It uses you strengths well and allows for surprise and serendipity. They really look great. (K)
Thank you. I went into the printmaking class just as sort of a diversion, and I was surprised to find how I liked this method of doing art (collagraphs, I mean). I really hadn’t understood how they worked.
I didn’t know anything about them, so thanks for the introduction.
That is amazing on how it started and what it became as a print! Very cool composition and I like all the shades!
Thank you. I am surprised that you can take what is basically scraps of this or that and come up with a great image. Like magic!
This is a really cool technique, thanks for sharing the process, I love your results!