Several months ago I became fascinated with the endless possibilities–of which I was previously unaware–that printmaking can afford an artist. I’m not sure what started me down this rabbit hole, perhaps it was my continued search for something other than watercolor to keep falling back on like a tired old habit, but it has turned out to be one of the best rabbit holes I could have stumbled upon. Countless articles and excellent blogs (with special thanks to Belinda Del Pesco’s blog, which is far superior, vastly more extensive than mine and a gold mine of a resource for a printing novice) have taught me just about as much as a crash course class in printmaking could.
So, with a heart full of gratitude to the internet, on to more printmaking adventures!
Long before getting my Little Mr. 906 I had been chomping at the bit like a frothing horse to try out collagraphy, which I had never heard of until I read about it.
What first got me interested in this technique was how basic it really is: no fancy carving tools, plates, acids, washes, or inks are needed to create these stunning little pieces that positively pop with color.
I won’t give detailed instructions for creating a collagraph–this isn’t a “how-to” type of blog and I don’t wish to make it into something that extensive–but I will give a quick low-down for those who are specifically interested in how the “La-La-Lemons” prints were made.
I first cut down some scrap mat board to make a plate and carved out a design with an x-acto into its uppermost surface.
I then sealed the block with clear varnish to prevent sticking, and let it dry.
After mixing up my desired color, I used a dauber (rolled up craft felt) to push the ink into the recessed areas of the plate. (Sound familiar to an etching? It is!)
After wiping the surface, leaving the ink in the recessed areas, I found that I had to go in with Q-tips to really scrub away at anything I didn’t want to be slightly tinted with a blue hue.
I added additional ink colors with a paintbrush until I was satisfied, and pushed her through the press!
After I used up all of my mixed inks (and pulled three successful prints), I went on to use colored pencil to create a bit more interest and variation to each print, making every one completely unique!
*If this post has piqued your interest in collagraph printing, I do have a few things to consider that I discovered along the way:
First, this is another technique that cannot be achieved without the press. It seems there is disagreement on this point, but I can’t see how this can be done by hand without lots of frustration and aching wrists.
Second, it is vital to use a thickener for your background ink, or else it will just wipe off completely. I used Akua Intaglio Mag Mix.
Third, while you can get by with newspaper and Q-tips to lighten the raised areas on the plate, it seems to me that wiping tarlatan is a better investment than the headache that came with using newspaper. Tarlatan is cheap, and I’ll see if it makes a difference in my next print.
Finally, when cutting out your design, you don’t have to cut very deep…however. My shallower cuts definitely had some trouble holding ink, so I would say to cut a bit deeper than you would initially think.
Overall, I would say this experiment was a great success!