Collagraph explorations

For as long as I can remember, I've been a tactile person. I've been known to pet pillows and blankets excessively, and attribute my ice cream addiction to a fondness for the consistency rather than the actual taste. To this day one of my more vivid memories remains the sensation of touching the wet, marshmallow-like surface of a sea hare in Catalina Island as a middle schooler. Emotionally I'm not a particularly touchy-feely person, but when it comes to the surfaces of the world, I most certainly am.

Perhaps it's no surprise then, that I've been experimenting with collagraphy, a printmaking method I learned about at the Museum a few months ago. Collagraphs are basically a fusion of collage and intaglio printing.

First you find yourself a variety of objects with different textures. You don't want your plate to get so thick that it won't go through the press. Fabrics, leaves, and other relatively two-dimensional objects work well.

Then arrange your objects into a design onto a plate. Matboard, cardboard, or Masonite all work as good plate surfaces. I was more interested in testing out different textures than making a brilliant composition for this first collagraph attempt, so this isn't a particularly interesting design.

Finally, glue your objects down to a surface such as cardboard or Masonite, and brush the whole thing over with a coating of Modge Podge or a similar adhesive material. You can also take advantage of the glue itself to create different textures by varying your brushstrokes or drawing designs into the still-wet surface.

The resulting plate is a 3D version of an intaglio plate. You ink and wipe it as you would an etching or drypoint, and run it through the press. The resulting print is similar to an etching, but is defined by the actual textures of the objects themselves rather than lines simulating them.

I printed this image twice, once in black, and once with color inks.

These aren't finished works to me, but studies. In making them, I learned that some objects inevitably work better than others for printing, and that I need to practice this technique more before I undertake any serious work with it. Given my tactile predilections though, I would like to incorporate collagraphy into a more extensive project in the future; I just don't know what yet.