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!