Project 11 – Making a test collage block

Research point

Well the course notes say to search online for examples of collographs/collatypes. I tried that and got lots of other OCA posts, including this one which says that she found just the same problem. I also found this post on “the problems with collographs” which made interesting reading (and persuaded me not to use a corrugated cardboard base).

Back to trying to find artists using this method.

Fortunately I am already familiar with a few, so I will concentrate on their work.

Emily Harvey

Different materials:

Plate made from a real cobweb – how on earth you manage to do this, I’m not sure!

Plate made from impressing fish into cement + carving

Chicken wire, wood and something else


Braille, wallpaper and ferns

Prints I really like:

Seed splitting

Great colours and I like the division of the image into sections

Annwyn Dean

The images on her website don’t do her work justice and I can only find small images there to link to, so will just post the link to her gallery:

Obvious collograph elements in her work are hole reinforcers and material

Hester Cox

Collograph and carborundum print. Apart from the feather, it is not clear what she has used in this print.


Sand and sea are some kind of texture, I think the feet here might be cut out of the sand plate as the ink is darkest around the edges and will have been rubbed away in the centre bits.

Not sure what a “plaster plate” is, but these look like collographs to me.

The twisted wire/string(?) works well here.

I love the colours on this one.


Additional ideas from online searching:

Use of sandpaper for tones

From the book “Collagraphs and Mixed-Media Printmaking, Brenda Hartill and Richard Clarke. A&C Black, 2004”, the following artists also caught my attention:

Lesley Davy

Uses acrylic gesso sanded.

Also uses multiple plates placed together, with a newsprint stencil over the top which isolates the colour, but retains the texture embossing through the paper.

Peter Ford

Uses broken plates of plywood to create interesting effects.

Trevor Price

Uses car filler on metal plates, textured (or polyfiller and PVA glue mix).


Collagraphs and Mixed-Media Printmaking, Brenda Hartill and Richard Clarke. A&C Black, 2004

Test collage block

Rather than create one collage block divided into 16 sections, I created two smaller ones as I had two pieces of thick card this size which were offcuts from mounted photographs. I divided the first into 11 sections, the second into 8 sections.

Collograph1 Collograph2

  1. Dried skeleton leaf
  2. Foil stars / circles and circle cut-outs
  3. Ribbon string
  4. Thick holey ribbon
  5. Metal mesh and textured sheet
  6. Paperclips
  7. Nails
  8. Bandage
  9. Hole re-inforcers and stickers
  10. Washers and key
  11. Plasterboard tape
  12. Parcel tape
  13. Acrylic gel medium molding paste
  14. Handmade paper
  15. Cut into the cardboard
  16. Acrylic gel medium molding paste
  17. Thick string
  18. 3 grades of carbundrum
  19. Ribbons

I sealed the blocks with 3 coats of shellac varnish.

First prints

I soaked some watercolour paper and used some linseed reducing jelly to loosen up some red ink and then tried inking up.

The first think noticed was that high textures next to low ones didn’t work well and made it difficult to get ink onto the lower levels.

Working around that, the next issue was of how to get a print off. The block was irregular heights and the paper wanted to keep slipping off. I was hoping to use my homemade hydraulic press as I doubted I would be able to get a very decent print off by hand rubbing, however, the paper moved around so much I thought I would just get a set of smudged ink marks. So I concentrated on hand rubbing to start with.

For any other OCA students reading this, some tips on materials not to use:

  • Wire mesh – the ends come lose and are pretty lethal
  • Nails – the flat ends have sharp points which then poke through the paper as you rub onto it

My next thought is whether I have made the block too shiny by applying 3 coats of shellac varnish and that is why the paper slides around so much? I am used to the paper sticking to the printing block and allowing some movement of the block and paper without it coming lose, but this wasn’t happing in this case. Or maybe I had added too much linseed reducing jelly and the ink wasn’t sticky enough?

The results were not great:

P1010514 P1010516 P1010517

P1010515 P1010513

After giving up in disgust at that point, I went back to it on another day determined to get it this time. Outcome = same result!

P1010506 P1010505

So, I decided to give up on hand rubbing and create a new smaller block (which would fit in my press), with only low level textures.

Collograph plate 3

This was stuck onto a plastic ex-display panel which was around A4 in size.

The moment of truth……

P1010507 P1010508

Much better! The press seems to be critical in this process and I will continue with using a smaller size block for this stage.

A block painted with green ink so that it got in all the crevices, rubbed off and then re-inked using a roller with orange – I like the effect this has given:

P1010509 P1010510

Experimental collatype – printing from a textured surface

So, having found the right size block and printing method, it was onto producing a texture block. I tried two methods for this on different blocks, one using polyfiller and the other using acrylic gel medium molding paste. I drew into them with cocktail sticks, bamboo skewers and pieces of card cut into various shapes:

Polyfiller plate

Polyfiller plate

Gel medium plate

Gel medium plate


Polyfiller plate print

Polyfiller plate print

Molding paste plate print

Molding paste plate print

The molding paste block worked much better than the polyfiller (possibly because I had problems drying the polyfiller (mainly due to applying to a plastic base and leaving in a cold workshop!), so it was a much rougher surface.

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