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Collagraph printmaking

Collagraphy (sometimes spelled collography) was introduced in 1955 by Glen Alps. The word is derived from the Greek word koll or kolla, meaning glue, and graph, meaning the activity of drawing.

The image above, is a collagraph which has been printed from a collage of different textured materials such as scrunched up tissue paper, seeds and different bits of card. There is also some carborundum grit sprinkled on in places. The method for printing this image was as follows.

You will need:

Printing press

Textured materials




Using a stiff piece of card as a substrate; draw your design onto the card. Glue all the textured materials down well, making sure not to overlap them too much. Apply varnish over the whole collage, making sure it penetrates all the texture and leave to dry.

Apply oil -based ink or oil paint over the whole area, working it into all textures with a brush. Now use a rag to remove most of the ink from the surface. This needs to be done methodically, changing to a softer rag to remove surplus ink, leaving traces stuck in the crevices and textures. This is a process which takes practice, and also means that each print is different from the last one.

Dampen a piece of good quality paper (water colour paper is a good choice). This can be done by leaving it to soak in a water bath for a few minutes, then removing it and dabbing the excess water from the surface. The paper must not be shiny wet, just damp. Place the inked board, (ink side up) onto the printing press. Lay a sheet of dam paper over the inked board. Lay a larger piece of paper over this as insurance against leakage, then pull the blankets over the whole. Run through the press.

If the resultant print is too pale, you may have removed too much ink. If there is ink squirting out of the sides, then you have not removed enough ink, or the textured materials that you have used may have been absorbent, and soaked up ink, only to squirt it out under the pressure of the press.

You can use simple materials such as grasses, fibers, leaves, bubble wrap and textured wallpaper. If fact any flat materials that can be glued down. Ripped papers and different types of card make excellent collagraph materials.

This collagraph was based on a photo of Mevagissey harbour in Cornwall. I used card, string, textured wallpaper and scrunched up tissue paper. It was printed with black oil -based ink, but I added water colour paint when it was dry.

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