Collagraph Plate

Completed Collagraph

The collagraph takes its name from collage. It is an impression made from a board or block in which three-dimensional elements are glued.

My process continues to evolve and I am always trying new ways to do things. The process is quite involved, but I will try to describe the basics here. I often start by printing the base plate with all the textures applied (below left), but depending on the subject matter I have found printing the color first is working best for me right now. I start by creating a drawing and transferring that composition to two separate plates. One plate is created to add color to the print and the other plate is to add a single color of textures. The plate on the left is designed to add color. I glue canvas to illustration board and then transfer the design to the plate with canvas on it. I decide what colors I am going to use, mix my colors and then apply ink to the plate either with tarlatan (a strong absorbant cloth similar to cheese cloth) or with paint brushes depending on the size of the area that needs to be filled. The plate to the left is an example of what the plate looks like once I have filled in the desired areas with colored ink.

Once I have all the colors in place I place the plate on the press bed, place a dampened piece of paper on top and run it through the press. Once this step is completed I usually let the print sit for day or two so it can dry before I print the textured plate (below) on top.

The second plate I create is basically the collage I compose by gluing various textures to the plate (illustration board). Once all the pieces are glued into place I paint a coat of gloss medium over the entire plate to seal it. When the medium has dried I am ready to start printing by applying either black or a warm brown ink with tarlatan. Once the plate has good ink coverage I then wipe the plate with a clean piece of tarlatan removing most of the ink from the raised surface and leaving the ink in the recessed areas. I place one of the dampened colored prints pulled from the above plate on the press bed and then place the textured plate on top of it and run it through the press.

The plate to the left shows you what the plate looks like after it has been inked and run through the press. The plate of the crows (upper left) is what the plate looked like before I inked it up for printing.

Stage 2 of printing process.

This image shows you what the print looks like after I first printed color and then printed a warm umber ink on top of it.

And finally I decided I wanted to print a yellow background so I created a third plate with canvas glued to illustration board. I rubbed yellow ink into it, placed the dampened print (after stage 2 of printing process) on the press bed, placed a mask over the hummingbird (I obviously did not want to print yellow over the bird), then placed the yellow plate on top of the print and ran it through the press.

Sometimes some hand coloring is added if needed.