Monday 3 March 2014

Collagraph Prints

I often get asked what a Collagraph Print is, so I thought I'd try and explain!

 Its a collage printmaking technique which involves using a card plate to start off with and then adding various items to make textures and levels which will eventually make the final image.  Paper, fabric, string, leaves, magazine pages, tissue paper etc can be stuck to the plate as long as the surface is fairly even, has no sharp bits and will go through the printing press then the list is endless! Acrylic paint, enamel paint, acrylic texture mediums etc can also be used and these can give a very painterly effect often showing the brushstrokes when printed. Also carborundum can be used to print a very strong black. Carborundum is a fine silica grit that needs to be stuck down very strongly and creates a lot of texture that will hold lots of ink. Some people also seal their plates especially if they have a lot of things stuck to the plate that could come loose while printing, personally I don't seal my plates as I like to use the surface of the card as one of my printed textures.

With a collagraph printing plate the more texture it has on the plate the more ink it will hold and the darker the image will print, the smoother the surface of the plate the less ink it will hold and the lighter it will print. It takes a while to get your head round how to design a printing plate and what to use to get the textures you desire, it also doesn't help that you have to work backwards too!

Some Examples of My Collagraph Printing Plates

Collagraph printing is great because it is a really safe way of printing and I do it on my dining room table! There are no dangerous fumes like with etching and I tend to use the offcuts of mountboard for my printing plates so it is fairly inexpensive. Also I love the fact that I can cut my printing plates into shapes like on some of my animal prints below. See how the printing plate takes on the colour of the inks that I have used to print them with!

These are the printing plates below that I am currently working on. As well as working backwards I also work white on white which takes some getting used to!

This is my elephant collagraph printing plate on the left and the pink print that was produced from it on the right. You just have to be careful when cutting the plates into shapes that you don't leave any thin parts which could bend/snap when printing.

Pink Elephant

Heres my Black Cat collagraph print hot off the press!

Black Cat
I often think the printing plates in themselves make great works of art and one day I will have to put on an exhibition of just the collagraph printing plates!

Clare xx


  1. Interesting Clare. Do you have to have the printing press or can you print from them like from lino?

    1. I use a printing press for my prints. You can print the collagraph plates like lino by rolling a layer of ink over them but you just have to be careful the levels are all the same. You can also combine them both and roll a layer of ink over the top to just catch the upper most parts of the plate and end up with two colours, it thens gets complicated!

  2. Really great blogpost Clare, you've explained it very well.

    ps I think you may have the elephant's plate and print the wrong way round in your description? Looks to me like the print is on the right and the plate is on the left.

    1. Thank you Stephie just changed it, I don't know my left from my right!

  3. Neat process - thanks for explaining!

    Btw, I'm stopping by from the Etsy Blog Team. :D