Intro to Collagraphs . . . and the printmaking continues

Hello! Good day to you! I had an exciting adventure in printmaking this morning, and I wanted to shared it with you. You may remember my printing adventures from this past summer, during which I dabbled in block printing, screen printing, and letterpress printing. Since then, printmaking has kept coming back to me, but every time I think about it I feel that I haven’t quite found the right fit for me.

I have some criteria: I would like to do some printmaking where creating the printing block or plate is just as much fun as creating the actual prints, I would also prefer a method not requiring lots of toxic chemicals, I don’t have the space or funds to work with heavy machinery right now, and wouldn’t it just be an extra added bonus if I could somehow involve a principal of re-use, (as in: using things I already have and might otherwise throw away) in the process? Well, do you know what type of printmaking fits all of those criteria? You guessed it: collagraphy!

But wait, what the hey is collagraphy? That’s exactly what my husband asked me about three times this weekend as I’ve started throwing the word around in conversation as if everyone knows what it is. Basically, collagraphy is a type of printing where you create the printing block (the “stamp” or plate-like object that you print) out of a collaged (yes, they share the “colle” word root—it means “glue” in French) block. You can use anything you want to make this block, including recycled cardboard, matboard, and paper scraps (all of which I have plenty).

So, I pulled out a piece of matboard, paper scraps, cardstock scraps, cardboard, glue, and mod podge yesterday and got started. I’m a complete beginner right now, so I don’t really want to advise you exactly on what glue and process to use to assemble the block because I don’t have enough miles in yet, but I glued my pieces down with Yes paste and gave the whole final blocks a couple of coats with Mod Podge. I think I may end up having to use some better final protective coat as one of my blocks is already showing some wear after just a handful of prints. One book I read suggested using a “household” varnish. If I figure out what that is exactly, I will let you know. Here are some pictures:

my workspace: I used some block printing ink I had for printing this round, and some different papers I had on hand. The thinner paper (almost as thin as rice paper) worked best.

my first printing block. While I’m not completely excited about the final print, this block gave me lots of ideas about other collagraphs I’d like to make—I love the lines from the cardboard (I just pulled the top layer off a piece of cardboard) and I would like to try another print with profiles like this.

This was my second block, created on a whim after the first one. This is the block that made me fall in love. I love the ghost space around each of the rectangles, I love the texture from the waffle paper I used, and I love the imperfections. This collagraph just makes me gasp with excitement! Oh happy day! And now I’m nerding out about all the art things I love: prints, shape repetition, black and white, rectangles, that sweet feeling of wild energy you get when you’ve made something that makes you want to make more things like it. Here’s a closer picture of a print of this second collagraph:

If you’re at all interested in printmaking, I highly suggest you try collagraphs. Take a look around online or at your public library to see some more specific techniques. And, stay tuned! I will definitely be making more!

7 Responses to “Intro to Collagraphs . . . and the printmaking continues”

  1. 1 Lee Ann January 18, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Oh so cool! Thanks for sharing this technique. I’ve made my own printing block before out of carving into styrofoam and leather like product but never thought of or heard of Collagraphs. Awesome!

  2. 2 inspiredstone January 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Man, like a creative power-house. Pen and ink, colorful pinwheels and now collagraphs. Keep making!

  3. 3 Kerri January 18, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    I love it when you make prints! I feel almost as excited as you sound! These are great! I love the ghosty in between spaces too x

  4. 4 rachel awes January 19, 2011 at 5:59 am

    this looks AMAZING.
    i also love
    your green leaf
    & blue pinwheels
    you are running
    a joy factory.

  5. 5 Amy January 20, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    These are wonderful! And what a super cool process–I’ve never heard of it before, but it sounds so straightforward and so wide open to experimentation at the same time. Perfect.

    And this line: “…that sweet feeling of wild energy you get when you’ve made something that makes you want to make more things like it.” That just made me all warm and fuzzy with recognition. *Such* a great feeling. Pure energy born of inspiration.

  6. 6 Rochell April 15, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Wow! Finally I got a blog from where I can really take valuable facts concerning my study and knowledge.


  1. 1 The Trial and Error of Life, and More Collagraphs « blue bicicletta Trackback on January 21, 2011 at 10:18 am

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Hello there! My name is Nicole K. Docimo, and I am an artist and writer from the U.S.A. but currently residing in Zurich, Switzerand. Thank you for visiting my blog!

Some Thoughts

"Be thirsty for the ultimate water,
and then be ready for what will
come pouring from the spring."

{from "Joy at Sudden Disappointment"
translated by C. Barks.}

~This Work ~

Unless otherwise noted, all images and writings on this blog were created by me, Nicole K. Docimo aka Blue Bicicletta. If you would like to share anything you see here for inspirational purposes online, I just ask that you kindly let folks know where you found it. If you are wanting to share/reproduce any of my work in any other way, or have any questions about how you will be sharing the work in relation to copyright, please contact me directly at nkdocimo {at} gmail {dot} com. Thanks!

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