A collagraph is a print made with a collage plate, using textured surfaces to produce the image.

I followed the process from Jackson’s Art blog, with help from Harriet Hedden from the Mary Ward experimental print-making class. So a huge thank you to both!

I started off by drawing the image by drawing a grid over my photo and the mount board plate. I’d inverted the image to make me look at if differently, in terms of textures. I coated the ‘plate’ with gloss medium.

Coating the plate with gloss medium allows for scoring the surface and removing surface areas – which will give a contrasting texture to hold the ink.

As well as wallpaper samples (from eBay for £3 – enough to do a dozen plates), I used fine sandpaper and gloss vinyl (used for sign making, and I cut it using my Silhouette vinyl cutter). The wall paper and sandpaper was stuck down with PVA glue.

The glossier the surface, the more ink will rub off when scrimming, and the rougher the surface, the more ink will remain on the plate for printing. Sandpaper will be dark, and gloss vinyl, packing tape, sellotape will be light. The textured wallpaper will have light and dark areas as the ink is held in the crevasses. Even if using packing or sellotape for light areas, a crisp dark line will appear around the edge.

Don’t forget, everything needs to be back to front, especially if you have text. I made the rookie mistake in my first plate – but the inked plate once dried, has an amazing metallic feel to it, so I will be framing that as a collage piece (image at the very top).

Once I had the collage complete, I lacquered the whole plate with polyurethane spray (outside), and let it dry for a week. After that, you can score into the plate for fine line work, much like a drypoint.

Once the plate is complete, I covered it with intaglio water-based ink, and scrimmed (rubbed the ink in and off, with gauze called ‘scrim’) for about an hour, before putting it through the etching press with soaked and blotted paper.

 

Here’s the finished print – this is the first print (a ‘proof’ print) – and the results from further prints should be even more interesting.

One thing I did learn – don’t try and glue food (rice, lentils) or leaves to the plate, as they will rub off when scrimming. It seemed a good idea for the trees, but for the second plate, I used paper, which had a much better result.