View Full Version : collagraph series - a butterfly

11-01-2003, 01:03 PM
I had the option in my independent study art class to pull a collagraph series along with some of my class, consisting mostly of students taking a second-year art class. I jumped at the chance - I had more fun than I admitted when I did my collagraphs last year.

For those of you who don't know, the plate for a collagraph is built up on a sturdy surface - we used mat board - using various papers, fabrics, strings, pine needles, small children, etc. to create texture. (j/k about the last part :angel: ) I don't have the plate to show you as it's still being held captive at school, so use your imagination.

You use an etching press (I think that's what it is, anyway) to get these prints. My school's is something like this (http://www.dickblick.com/zz450/16/products.asp?param=0&ig_id=1817), only, fitting with public school tradition, it's rusted, covered with a thousand different types and colors of paints/inks, and older than your mother. The handles for the crank are about two feet long apiece, impossibly heavy, and extremely hazardous to the well-being of your face and jaw when cranking. Not that I would know, of course. One of the five spokes is missing, so sometimes you have to throw the wheel around to get to the next handle and that requires more coordination than I have.

At any rate, you wet paper about twice as big as your plate (my plate was 6x8" and I used 12x18" paper) and let it soak while you rub ink (silkscreening ink worked superbly for us) all over your plate then rub it off again, leaving plenty of ink in all the little nooks and crannies of your plate.

Then you put a felt/wool blanket of some kind - I don't really know what it is, our supplies are so old, so well-used, and so splattered with the ink of a million different prints that it's impossible to tell the origin or even original color of the thing. Then we laid a sheet of newspaper then of plain newsprint down, then our damp paper that's no longer shiny from the water (if it's shiny, it runs. Not that I would know from experience or anything.), then the plate face-down in the approximate center of the paper, then more (CLEAN) newsprint, then another felt/wool blanket. Then you use some clever hip action combined with an impossible stretch of the arms to reach one of the spokes to crank the thing and somehow get it going through the press.

Before you ink your plate for the first time, it's usually pretty cool to run the plate through without ink and get the embossing. Some cool effects can be achieved by splashing some watercolor down on that wet paper first, as follows.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Nov-2003/16668-butterfly-emboss-white.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Nov-2003/16668-butterfly-emboss-wc.jpg

Then this is one of the best prints I got using just plain old black ink - this is a nice big scan so you can really see the detail in this.

Then I got to have some fun. I got ahold of the colored inks and printed a couple in dark purple and then in dark red/maroon, but then I decided to try some crazy stuff. :evil: Different colors in different places, that kind of thing, as soon as my teacher turned her back. Here's my two favorites.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Nov-2003/16668-butterfly-ink-cool.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Nov-2003/16668-butterfly-ink-warm.jpg (The second one IS my favorite.)

Most of these are printed on some unidentified paper . . . um, my best guess is between 90-120 lb. I did, however, print a couple on Fabriano Uno 140lb CP watercolor paper and they look great. I'll be hand-coloring one of them with watercolors in the near future, I didn't get to that quite yet (having too much fun with the colored inks :angel: ).

I'll be doing another collagraph project, hopefully starting next week. It's so much fun! :D :D

11-03-2003, 12:07 PM
Wow, thanks for your description-- that sounds like a really interesting process! :-)

Don't forget to post your final prints when you're done-- I'd love to see them (and I'm sure others would, too!)


11-03-2003, 04:26 PM
These are great. I love doing collographs also. They are a good way to recycle stuff too:D Will you please post your projects as you do them? I think a lot of members would be interested in the process, and if you have a digital camera you could take progress pics too :D

11-03-2003, 04:59 PM
Thanks guys.

Sassy - I was actually planning on, for the next project, bringing my digital camera to school and scanning the in-progress stuff or whatever necessary to put together a demo. Something came up that I'll have to tackle before I can get back to printing another series, but once I can print again, I'll try to do a full-fledged demo. :D

11-05-2003, 12:31 PM
Cool:D I will look forward to seeing it. How about doing an article through publisher? It is user friendly, and it will get the article on the home page where others will see it too. We are kind of the back corner of WC! since there are so few of us.

11-05-2003, 02:02 PM
Article! Article! :) (says the girl who said she'd write a collograph lesson, oh, a year ago?)

There's an artists her in our studios who just works with collograph. About 80% of her stuff is un-inked - just running it through the press. Lovely things. Usually patterns and texture on individual squares then made up into grids. She tries running it through both ways too - where 'up' is the print or 'in' is the print. Interesting. She usually runs an uninked metal plate through first to get a square or rectangular plate mark, and then the shapes second. (She does it separately because her collograph shapes are very very deep so need special blankets and low pressure.) Just more ideas for you. :)


11-06-2003, 01:18 PM
Friend 'T':
The second one for sure...but the simple embossed piece has a nice presence. I found an old 'proof press' at a 'going out of business' sale,local custom printing shop that couldn't compete with off-set quick-print places. It's a great tool for small[9" x 12+"] prints.I use old army blankets for 'felts'.
Thanks for the good post. Best regards,B

Alan Cross
11-12-2003, 01:30 AM
Good job...
Alan :)

11-13-2003, 09:51 AM
ARTICLE! I agree

I have some of these of SHELLS which I love and always wondered how to do them.....

11-14-2003, 03:22 PM
Thanks, everyone. :)

I used three of these prints - the white embossed one, the black ink one I showed you, and the finished hand-colored one I don't have a picture of to show you - for the first round of auditions for the North Carolina Governor's School. The judges were impressed. :D

I'm putting together a plate this week, so I'll do it as a WIP and if it turns out okay, I'll make it into an article. Happy? :p :angel: :D