T1-MMT-P4-p2-e1 Collage blocks

In this exercise we are to create a collage block and print from it.

I used an A4 piece of mountboard for my base and PVA both to glue on materials and as protective coating for the completed block. From my research (yet to be posted) there are generally all sorts of practical considerations for the items to be collaged, most related to suitability for printing on a press – not too thick, no overhangs that could break, no sharp edges that could damage the press or blankets… Most is not relevant to printing by hand, and if my materials started breaking down during use it could be interesting in its own right – there are lots of potential themes that relate to decay and the passage of time.

The materials chosen have all been used in previous samples in this course.

collatype plate 1

collatype plate 1

Row 1: Computer circuit board (wrapping samples, including p2-75 28-Jul-2015); Corrugated cardboard and cocktail sticks (multiple uses, including p2-2 6-Jun-2015);
Row 2: Fragments of plaster (from sample p3-53, 1-Oct-2015); Plastic braid (used in molding in p3-10, 27-Aug-2015);
Row 3: Balsa wood (an offcut from joining sample p2-20, 22-Jun-2015); Cork mat – the two pieces on the right have been roughened to vary the surface (from sample p2-20, 22-Jun-2015);
Row 4: Paper clips (used in extended join sample, 2-Jul-2015); Resin (mentioned in passing in Sorting of molding and casting, 11-Oct-2015. I drilled holes in resin while experimenting with display options, as seen in the photograph combining samples p3-24, p3-35 and p3-33. The resin shavings from the drilling are used in the collage block);
Row 5: Insect screen mesh (a recurring favourite, including the curl in joining sample p2-18, 19-Jun-2015); Hessian (joining sample p2-24, 22-Jun-2015).
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Print p4-87
For the first print I used akua intaglio ultramarine blue ink. I started the application with a cut-down housepainting brush, an idea found in Bill Chambers notes (http://www.billchambers.org/images/artists%20notes/collagraph_printmaking.pdf), thinking this would help push ink into the complex and often small spaces in the plate. Coverage was very mottled so I combined this with use of a dabber made from polyester fill covered by a plain weave mid-weight cotton. The combination seemed to work well, pushing colour into crevices but avoiding buildup of ink.

The print was taken on A3 copy paper, pressed by hand and brayer. I worked from the thinner materials up to the thicker ones.

Print p4-87

Print p4-87

Overall the colour is quite light and uneven. The paper is slightly distorted, particularly in the area in row 2, around the plaster pieces. There is some ghosting and blurring around some of the thinner pieces, pressed again after the paper had shifted while printing the thicker areas. There are large white gaps around most of the materials.

I was pleased that all the materials did print at least something. The speckled line of the braid in row 2 is attractive if a little messy. It is reminiscent of a snake. The insect mesh in row 5 is the clearest print and the slight ghosting gives an extra flicker of movement.
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Print p4-88
I inked up the plate again, using the same tools but with more energy and force.

The plate was printed onto lightly damped stonehenge paper (245 gsm, 100% cotton). The paper was damped using a method seen on a demonstration video by Tyrus Clutter (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fO2G56hC5Fs). He sprays the one side of each sheet a few times, then stacks the paper and stores it in a plastic bag.

I pressed on the paper by hand and brayer, working from thick areas to thin, trying to mold the paper around the plate materials.

Print p4-88

Print p4-88

The heavier inking and heavy, damp paper has resulted in richer colour on the print. Working around the thick areas first has avoided the ghosting and movement of the previous print. The dried paper is unevenly embossed around some of the thicker materials, however nothing quite broke through the surface of the paper.

Most of the textures produced could be useful in the right context. The plastic braid and plaster pieces were more effective in the previous print.
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Print p4-89
In this print I experimented with using two colours. I was thinking of prints that combine relief and intaglio printing.

First I inked the plate again with blue akua intaglio ink. I wiped “surface” areas with a pad of synthetic organza (a substitute of the tarlatan I’ve read of printers using). I then rolled on orange akua liquid pigment, not avoiding but not particularly trying to get into any of the spaces between the different collaged elements.

I printed onto lightly damp stonehenge paper, working from thick areas to thin.

Partway through row 2 I started using wooden clay modelling tools to help in molding the paper around the collaged items. I didn’t go back to the top because of the likelihood of shifting the paper.

Print p4-89

Print p4-89

The result is full of areas of interest. On most elements the blue and orange remain distinct rather than mixing to sludge. Ink reached additional areas due to the increased embossing with the wooden tools. The dried paper is heavily embossed, with a few small breakages.

Print p4-89 detail

Print p4-89 detail

My favourite areas are the circuit board and the insect mesh. In both there is complex interaction of the two colours, providing a lot of interest and detail.
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My second collage block experimented with mark-making on the mountboard itself. I was also interested in comparing different types of sealant. Most of the artists I have researched use shellac (where sealing material is mentioned), but that involves methylated spirits which I would rather avoid.

I didn’t attempt the scratching exercise of Assignment 1 – this felt like filling in that gap.

I wasn’t able to get a good photograph of the finished board ready to print.

collatype plate 2

collatype plate 2


Markings, left to right:
Column 1: Scoring with a stanley knife.
Column 2: Attempts with a lino cutting knife. This became frustrating and the marks “stabby”. I suspect poor quality, blunt, cheap tools – but then a poor workman blames her tools.
Column 3: Channels cut with an x-acto x2000 knife. This is described by the manufacturer as “the ultimate cutting tool for precision and accuracy” and it was a joy to use, especially after column 2. I cut v-shaped channels, one side at a time. Cutting was smooth and responsive – with practice I think one could create some very sensitive, varied lines with this tool.
Column 4: I tore off the upper layers of the mountboard. Each tear was begun with a small slit with the x-acto knife, then I tried to tear varying widths and densities.
Column 5: Stabbing and scratching with the sharp nose of a small pair of scissors.
Column 6: A fork was dragged across the board, denting but not cutting the surface.

Different media were painted in rows across the board to seal it. Looking from the top down:
Row 1: Mod-podge.
Row 2: Acrylic matt medium.
Row 3: Acrylic heavy structure gel.
Row 4: Acrylic gesso.
The media were thinned with water and two layers were used.
I made two unfortunate errors in this process. First, I used a poor quality brush I had to hand, getting a streaky result and some broken fibres in the paint. Second, I got my media confused and painted heavy structure gel as layer two of the mod-podge row. A third layer – mod-podge this time – was added in an attempt to rectify the problem.
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Print p4-90
The board was rolled with ultramarine blue akua intaglio ink. It was printed onto copy paper with a baren.

Print p4-90

Print p4-90


Failure.
The result is patchy and bland. There is slightly more colour in the matt medium row. I see no interesting marks.
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Print p4-91
The plate was rolled with ink as in the previous print. It was printed using the ezicut press onto cartridge paper.

Print p4-91

Print p4-91

The colour overall is better, but now it is clear that there are uneven brushmarks from applying the sealant across the block. Once again the matt medium has given a deeper result.

The energy of the lino cutting and the scissor stabbing is now apparent and I think give the most interesting areas. The lines from the x-acto knife are smooth, distinct and flowing. I am disappointed by the area where the mountboard was torn. From my research this should give darker areas. This is one of the techniques used by Sarah Ross-Thompson (http://www.rossthompsonprints.com/techniques). Possibly my sealant was too thick, losing the texture of the torn board. I believe Ross-Thompson uses one thin layer of shellac. Possibly I did not tear deeply enough.
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Print p4-92
In this print I attempted an intaglio effect, similar to that learnt in the workshop with Jet James earlier this year (16-July-2015). I pressed akua intaglio ink into the board using a wallpaper smoother and an old plastic membership card. I then wiped ink off the surface of the plate with synthetic organza and phone-book paper.

I thought the spray-dampened paper used in earlier prints was too dry, so this time soaked the stonehenge paper in a water bath, blotted dry between towels, then stored in a plastic bag. I printed using the ezicut press.

Print p4-92

Print p4-92

The paper was very damp, and I think this has led to come spreading of the ink. The unevenness of the sealant application is still apparent. The surface ink was more effectively removed from the mod-podge areas.

The marks previously identified remain the most promising. The striation of the painted sealant has become more interesting in a shabby chic way. It could become an effective background texture, and a more varied range of brush mark could be explored.
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Print p4-93
Blue intaglio ink was applied and wiped as in the previous print. Orange akua liquid pigment was then applied using a roller.

The print was taken on very damp stonehenge paper using the ezicut press.

Print p4-93

Print p4-93


There is more spreading of the ink than in the previous print. Possibly the paper was even damper than before. Possibly the liquid pigment is more sensitive to damp in the paper.

The incised x-acto lines are the only sharp and well-defined elements, with good contrast between wiped surface and incised marks. There is little clear orange to be seen, although I suspect some of the mixing is optical rather than mixing of the inks themselves. Personally I find the complex colour more interesting than variations of blue and white. The orange gives a glowing effect. It would be interesting to use analogous rather than near-complementary colours in a print. I’m not sure if that would serve to reduce the impact of the mark-making or enhance and enrich the print overall.

T1-MMT-P4-p2-e1 Collage blocks
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Project 2: Collatype printing
Exercise 1: Create a collage block
T1-MMT-P4-p2-e1 Collage blocks

5 Responses to “T1-MMT-P4-p2-e1 Collage blocks”


  1. 1 JulieB December 15, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    Some interesting results; I especially like the texture and variation in Print p4-89.

  2. 2 fibresofbeing December 16, 2015 at 6:26 am

    p4-89 also has some movement and shadowing in it due to heavy, irregular embossing which adds interest. It feels more robust than the other prints.


  1. 1 T1-MMT-P4-p2-e3 Collatype collage prints – 80 mile beach part 1 | Fibres of Being Trackback on December 27, 2015 at 4:24 pm
  2. 2 T1-MMT-P4-p2-e3 Collatype collage prints – low texture experiments | Fibres of Being Trackback on December 30, 2015 at 10:47 pm
  3. 3 T1-MMT-P4 Mono and collatype printing: Sorting | Fibres of Being Trackback on January 2, 2016 at 7:27 pm

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