Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Collagraph - collage plate print

I am currently working a small series of collagraph prints which are a combination of intaglio and relief printing surfaces.

The untitled work pictured above represents streams of water, one passing through a channel in rock and the other flowing over a ledge.

I may apply a bit of hand tinting to one of the proofs to see how the image might be affected. Another option is to dab small areas of colour ink to the plate using an a la poupée technique where ink is dabbed on with tiny bundles of cloth and selectively wiped. Poupée comes from the french word for dollies or dauber.

The base plate is a piece of tagboard to which I have applied glue and affixed elements such as thin pieces of scratchfoam (styrofoam product), living organic materials such as grasses and conifer needles, more cardboard and the odd scrap of fabric. Then acrylic based modeling paste was added using a brush and worked with the brush tip to create interesting textures. The rule of thumb is that anything with a low relief (and will not damage your roller) can be attached to the plate which is then sealed with varnish.

Here I have worked into the styrofoam with a needle and also by pressing coarse grit sandpaper and burnishing it to leave impression marks in the styrofoam surface to replicate the pocky texture found in igneous rock that is commonly found in the region where I reside.

Ink is applied and wiped into the lower recessed areas and also applied using a roller to the surface relief areas.

In this particular image I have applied one colour of oil based ink that coated the entire plate and then I carefully wiped away off surfaces using tarlatan (starched cheesecloth), tissue and old phone book pages.

I soaked a piece of 250 gsm rag printmaking paper for about 20 min. in lukewarm water then blotted it between pieces of newsprint and tissue until it was ever so slighty damp to the touch. The plate was set onto my etching press bed, the paper placed over top and then two layers of wool felts over that. It was passed under the rollers using a fairly tight squeeze (as the plate is a bit higher it doesn't require the same amount of pressure as that of metal plate etching).

Liking how the ink deposits into the recesses and with selective wiping creates a look similar to an etching with aquatint.


  1. Quicker way to blot paper is to blot them between old bathroom towels, saves on blotting paper too and you could have a stock of old ones that are cleaned in rotation.

  2. This is fantastic work Brian! The textures from your plate have translated beautifully to the print. The movement in the water, both in the crevice and over the rock ledge is really well done.

  3. Greetings! Nice rich image. Curious if you run editions and if they are consistent or are they more singular images?
    Steven- Black Dog Press and Studio

  4. thanks Steven
    to date I haven't run any large editions on most of my collagraphs.
    This one was the exception in that I printed ten of them but they were all variable due to the inking and wiping not being identical in each case.
    I find that with oil based etching ink thinning it is the key really for getting into lower recessed areas. Have been experimenting with Akua ink which doesn't really need any additive for thinning and it gives pretty good deep colour. Also printing into damp rag paper is crucial.