Printmaking 101: Collagraph

The following was written by Pauline Jakobsberg, one of several WPG artists creating collagraphs (also sometimes spelled collograph, neither of which Word or most other editing software recognize!)  Read on to learn a little bit more about this technique and Pauline’s take on it, and stop by the gallery to see some in person!

"Secret Layers" by Pauline Jakobsberg, this image is of the plate used to make the print.

Although I enjoy solar plates and other printmaking techniques, I periodically return to collagraphs and have been doing so for many years. This printmaking method is great for the beginners since it takes very little out of pocket money to create.  It can be approached by using numerous materials from home-string, wood strips, various glues, mylar, gel mediums, hairbrush bristles, fabrics and many more found objects that you discover in your search.  Unlike a collage, the collagraph must be thin enough to pass through a printing press.

"Slightly Irregular" by Pauline Jakobsberg, collagraph with pastel and drawn elements.

My early collagraphs consisted of building up rough hewn surfaces on cardboard with gesso.  This wet application allowed me to draw images into the surface with a pencil or etching tool and apply other sorted materials.  When dry, the gesso served as a preservative to withstand the numerous inkings and cleanings over the years.  As my work became more varied and complex, I started using fabric and parts of clothing that were soaked in gesso, stretched to my desired effect, then  shaped and dried.  The fabric hardened sufficiently to form a stable printing surface. When printing a collagraph, the printing paper has to be very damp any preferably of heavy fiber to withstand the embossed pressure of the press. Etching inks are applied with small pieces of cardboard or old credit cards, as well as soft compact cheesecloth and toothbrushes for those deep and tight areas.  With many collagraph plates, especially my fabric ones, the repeated inkings and printings stained the plates, which took on a beauty of their own which after an edition was completed, so they were left to dry as relief art.

Often my collagraph prints were combined with other techniques as well as pastel and chine colle, rendering them one of a kind.

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One response to “Printmaking 101: Collagraph

  1. Ole Skat Nielsen

    Thank you for telling about the technique which was unknown to me.
    I like the prints!