Technique: Collagraphs

collage172As I’ve been working through a year of collages, I’ve been wondering what to do with all the results. Some of these exercises in composition have NOT been frame-worthy, but what if they could still be used? When I filled up my first sketchbook, I was willing to try.

First, I scanned the sketchbook and ripped the binding apart. Then, I chose a few collages I could bear to part with, such as #172, left. Knowing that I have a high-resolution scan to work with as a digital layer, I felt free to experiment.

Here’s the idea:
collagraph of collage #172

  • Mount the collage to a thin wooden panel
  • Seal it with acrylic medium
  • Use it as a printing plate

This technique of creating an interesting surface for printing is, as you might have guessed from the title, collagraphy. Here’s how the collage (now a printing plate) and the first print looked after I whipped up some soft orange ink for a first run.

Second print of #172Naturally, I couldn’t leave it at that! I scanned the result in case it might serve as a good layer in future pieces. Then, I worked up another ink color, applied it to the plate, and overprinted for emphasis. I’m happy with both the result AND the new look of the plate! Finding the plate much improved by its new layer of purple, I left it to dry.

PurpleCollage172I’m still working through the possibilities of all these transformational steps. The downside of a collagraph plate is that it’s a fixed texture piece which needs to be stored. Perhaps I can eliminate the mounting & sealing, and just print one-off impressions, scanning as I go. Already, I’ve used some of the printing output in a more recent daily collage. The impermanence and transition are appealing metaphors to explore. Stay tuned!


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