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Printmaking: Collagraphs/Collage Blocks

A Collagraph print is a collage printmaking technique and is a form of Intaglio printing. The collagraph plate is printed in the same way as etchings, but also include the basic principle of relief printing and can be printed either as intaglio or relief.

The term collagraph refer to a collage board where the materials are assembled on a flat base or plate (matrix) to form a relief block with different surface levels and textures.

Collagraph plates are created by sticking and gluing materials like textured paper or fabric onto the plate and then coat it with varnish or acrylic medium afterwards to protect the materials.

The plate can be made from wood plates or cardboard plates that you build up using different materials.

Collagraph Texture Samples

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The Collgraph printing Process:

Many artists prefer to use thin wood plates (about 4-6 mm) because they are easier to work with and do not bend as easily as cardboard plates. Wood plates also lasts longer than cardboard and are more solid. However, any base can be used, from cardboard to acetate, as long as it is not too tick and can have materials glued on to it.

The collage should not be to tick and the materials should not contain any sharp edges as it might ruin both the paper and the press.

Collagraphs printmaking can be a very interesting way of working mainly because of the many different effects that can be created and the great variation in texture you can get from using different materials.

Brush strokes You can use paint, glue, leaves, fabric and almost anything with texture that are flat enough to not rip the paper when you print it.

The materials you apply to the plate will determine the tone and strengths of the ink, and will also give you a variation of textures.

Absorbent materials might have to be inked up and printed a couple of times before the the full impression comes through.


Texture Examples:

Different types of paper and cardboard.
Eg. Tissue paper, crepe paper and japanese paper. The paper can be ripped up or cut and glued on to cover areas in the design.

Any object that can be glued to the plate.
Either pressed into glue/paint to create an offprint texture or glued on to be embossed in the paper when printed.

Acrylic paints and acrylic textures. Glosspaint and varnish.
Different brush strokes will create a variation of texture. Also paletteknifes and sponges can be used.

Carborandum is also a good choice if you would like to print something completely black (or any other ink colour)

Other interesting materials can be string, tread, fabric, leafs, peas, rice and maskingtape.

Different textures and substances can also be combined on one plate.

When the plate is finished, it should be sealed with varnish and left to dry overnight (depending on the drying time) and then it's ready to be proofed.

The plate is then printed in the same way as an intaglio plate using an flat bed intaglio press. The number of impressions (prints) that can be created from a collagraph plate depends on the materials used.

Many different plates can also be printed on top of each other, one colour for each plate. The effect can give the print a lot of depth, especially if you use a lot of transparency in the ink. Since each plate have a different design, the colour from the last plate will come through and you end up with a multi-coloured result.

Experiment with a variety of different paints, materials and base surfaces and have fun creating fascinating pieces like the ones on this page!

Company Snapshot

Collagraph print in two different colours.
One of the plates was made with paper clips.

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