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Collagraphs

One of the classes I am teaching at the moment is collagraph printmaking. As the name implies, you make a collage of materials on a flat substrate such as matboard, seal the back and the front, then ink and wipe it like an intaglio plate before printing. Here is one of the collagraphs I have made this year:

The texture along the top is created by ripping away the first layers of the matboard and exposing some of the rougher fibres below the smooth surface. The crane shape comes from cutting precise lines with an x-acto knife and then digging away inside the lines. The brown shape below the crane=a piece of thin textured fabric glued onto the matboard. The factory=pieces of the torn mat board cut into regular shapes and glued back down. Finally, the very darkest areas were created by brushing on carborundum mixed with PVA. When all of that was dry, I sealed the front and the back with acrylic gloss medium. Inking=prussian blue and sepia, wiped with tarlatan to create a middle tone of bluish-green.

What's nice about collagraph printmaking is that you can make a plate with a variety of textures and marks that is similar to an aquatinted copper plate etching, but produced at a fraction of the cost. And my students at the Art Center Highland Park are making similar discoveries:

These were created from pieces of birch bark that someone brought along to the class.

The following print was made by cutting and tearing the matboard, plus a little bit of carborundum:

For an example of how you can use collagraphy to make epic-scale images, look at the work of Cuban artist Belkis Ayon:

Copyright: Kemper Art Museum.

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