What can YOU say in six sentences?
The term collagraph derives from collage and describes the method of making printing plates by sticking materials onto a base plate to create line, shape and texture, thus it works in the opposite way to etching, since it is the raised areas which hold the ink and not the indentations.
The simplicity of this hands‑on, low‑tech and minimal cost process belies the infinite variety of results that can be obtained, given that plates can then be inked both intaglio (ink applied to cracks and crevices) and relief (ink applied to raised and/or textured surfaces.)
Mount card is an inexpensive and particularly versatile base plate, because as well as supporting collage it can be cut into, and layers peeled away to varying depths; the main drawbacks are that it may be less robust than firmer materials, particularly if a long print run is required, and is more susceptible to distortion if water‑based glues are used (overcome by sealing and drying under weights).
The choice of what to stick onto the base plate is limited only by considerations of the thickness of the final plate: and the amount to which it will hold ink ‑ too smooth and the ink will wipe off, too heavily textured and over‑much ink will be held so that when put through the press it will splurge out into areas where it was not intended to go – this a more common error: one of my earliest plates used crushed peppercorns with very sticky effects indeed.
The slightest scratch prints with greater clarity than expected, and even brush marks in thick acrylic paint will create interesting effects; it should be remembered that incisions into the plate will give raised areas in the final print, and relief textures on the plate will emboss the paper.
The images shows two stages of a plate: the first has slices of mount card (or paper) set around areas of tile grout, the second, further applications of tile grout with deliberate scratches; the yellow areas indicate where PVA was applied to the first layer so that ink would wipe off more readily; the third image is apparently the only print taken from that plate – seemingly a reject! – but it does show that reddish ink was applied intaglio, i.e. forced into the indentations, then, after wiping, a second, blue-grey ink was rolled over the raised surfaces.