What is a Collagraph, anyway?

From the Greek: colla meaning “glue” and graphos meaning “to write”. The process is an additive or constructive process where the image is literally built up on a base plate of illustration board or Masonite. One could use a great variety of materials such as string, ferns, leaves, paper, and lace, or almost anything that will create a low relief on the surface of the plate. Once the plate is prepared, it is positioned on the press bed, either with or without first applying oil based ink. Heavy paper is softened by soaking briefly in water, blotted and placed on the plate. Press blankets or “felts” are used to absorb any excess water, to provide a cushion for the paper and for friction with the press roller which drives the press bed. As the press bed moves through the rollers under great pressure, the softened paper stretches in and around the textured surface of the plate. This is called “embossing”.

An embossed paper with no ink or a monochromatic print can be, and often are, a finished piece of artwork. Inking is a time consuming and laborious process yielding vastly different results depending on the type of ink and how it is applied. It is also possible to print in multiple colors at once, or to print multiple plates in different colors to form a single image. Finally, to further personalize some of my works, I like to hand color certain images or add elements such as Gold Leaf. Therefore, each print is not a reproduction, but an individual, original piece of artwork.

Making a Collagraph (Click photos to zoom)

The first step is to build the plate. I use egg shell fragments for many of my designs.

Inking the plate. First the ink is applied and then carefully wiped off. Meanwhile, the paper is soaking.

The paper may be embossed without ink or a monochromatic print can be created with an inked plate.

Pulling the print.

Taking things a step further, I combined the techniques of Monoprint and Collagraph by painting with oils on the "dirty" plate.
The finished print can be seen below.

Gallery (Click photos to zoom)