Tuesday 27 November 2012

How to print an elephant!

I've become a bit obsessed with producing elephant themed artwork at the moment. I've been doing lots of paintings but I thought the perfect medium for an elephant is a collagraph print as it would be great for achieving the textures and lines of an elephants skin.

I'm always getting asked how I produce my prints so I thought I would photograph each step as I went along (and I'm amazed I didn't get my camera covered in ink!)

Heres my starting point. The elephant is drawn onto mount board and then layers and layers of enamel paint are applied.  The more paint I apply the smoother the surface is to print from so it will print out white. I often get asked about how I can work backwards ie dark to light but I think any printmaker will tell you they are used to working very strangely - backwards, back to front etc - its just normal to us!

Heres the finished printing plate ready to be printed.

Now this is the messy part!
After covering every surface with newspaper I begin applying the etching ink.

The whole printing plate is covered in ink (and usually my face, arms, door handles etc!) making sure every bit of the plate is covered. Then it all gets wiped off again!

Heres the elephant just starting to appear!

Once the plate is completely wiped the ink is only retained in the most textured parts of the printing plate.

Here he is sitting on my printing press ready to be printed! (Yes that is a dalek cookie jar behind my press as my printing press lives on the dining room table!)

The moment of truth! This is the exciting part where you get to see if those hours of work have produced anything worthwhile!

The spare room bed covered in elephants! I would love a drying rack but just haven't got the space!

I'm really pleased with this print so might try a few more elephant ones and must try him in purple ink next time!

Clare xx


  1. Very interesting Clare, I wondered how you did it. Can you put more/different ink on him and do more prints from the same plate?

    1. Thank you! There are so many different ways of inking the plate and I would have done different colours but ran out of paper! I usually do editions of around 10 exactly the same as I get bored after a while and want to try something different and also as its a card printing plate it can be very fragile and the force of the printing press can damge the printing plate after a while.

  2. interesting Clare and thanks for sharing the steps.

  3. I always loved doing prints and its so exciting when you finally get seeif it has all worked, so jealous you have a press and a Daley cookie jar , thanks for sharing x

    1. Its great when you peel back that paper and discover if the print has worked or not! It took an awful lot of saving to get my press but I love it! xx

  4. I have a great passion for Collagraph! Thanks a lot for the beautiful lesson!