What is Collagraph Printmaking?

What is Collagraph Printmaking?

This is the question I get asked most often at Print Fairs, so apologies if you've heard it before, but I thought it a good one to include on the blog as well. It's my favourite printmaking method - flexible, accessible, easy to combine with other methods, and giving infinite creative possibilities.  

'Collagraph' (or 'collograph') comes from the word 'Collage', meaning to stick
material to an underlying surface. To make a collagraph plate, start with a piece of card or mountboard, then either make marks in the surface of the board to expose the rougher cardboard textures which hold more ink, or stick materials on to the surface such as tapes, glues, gels, cements, textured papers, grit, anything with an interesting texture.

Every variation in the plate in terms of edges, grooves, textures will hold ink in a
different way and to a greater or less extent and so create a different effect in the finished print. For example shiny materials hold less ink so result in a lighter tone in the print. Grooves, edges or anything with a rougher texture catch more ink and result in darker areas in the finished print. 

Collagraphs are best inked using an intaglio method (i.e. brushing and wiping the ink down into all the grooves and indentations of the plate) but ink can also be applied over the surface of the plate using a roller. Anything goes!

The image shows one of my collagraph plates and the associated print. 

What to look for in Collagraph prints - huge range of interesting marks and textures, blending of colours, irregular shaped plates, less sharply defined lines than in relief methods.

If you would like to see a collagraph process in a bit more detail, here's a video of yours truly in action...

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