George the Printmaker

What is a Collagraph?

As I detailed on my About page, the printing technique that I predominantly work in is called “Collagraph”. I thought it would be useful to describe what the technique involves and explain why I like it.

What is it?

Although the origin of the collagraph process is unclear, it is believed that one of the first applications of collagraphy dates back to the 19th century when artist Pierre Roche decided to glue various items to a copper and zinc plate to apply to his work Algues Marines (Sea Algae).

Collagraph is generally a low-tech printmaking medium which traditionally allows Intaglio (Intaglio? is a printing process that uses an etched or engraved plate; the plate is smeared with ink and wiped clean, then the ink left in the recesses makes the print) prints to be generated without the use of acid or tar-based resist solutions that are used in metal plate etching techniques.

The medium explores ‘constructing’ and shaping the printing plate upwards, as well as by incision. It is building images by assemblage using all types of elements in a collage-kind of way.

The plates can be a variety of materials. I prefer using recycled matt board sourced from framers but often thin wood and plexiglass are used. These kind of plate materials are cheaper alternatives to metal plates and do not require acids to etch the plate.

Materials to create the plates?

I utilise all manner of material to build my plates. The key is knowing how the material is going to take ink. Media such as fabrics, textured paper, leaves and other plant material, braille paper, sandpaper, string, fishing line, glues, gesso… the possibilities are endless! I’ve trained my husband, Mark, to be on the look out for things that I might be able to use when building plates!

Due to the greater fragility of collagraph plates it is more difficult to do large print editions, which is why I limit mine to a maximum of 25 original prints. In a way this makes them more special.

Why do I like working in collagraph?

I like it because of;

  • it is versatile and diverse,
  • the use of found and recycled objects,
  • it is a non-toxic process.

I’m in the process of developing video on the process which will appear on my YouTube channel soon.

Ciao for now, GG

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