T1-MMT-P4-p2-e3 Collatype collage prints – low texture experiments

The patchiness of printing with collaged elements bothered me. Even quite low elements like the yarns built up when overlaid to create areas that either didn’t print or captured blotches of ink, ready to release at awkward moments.

Thinner or dampened papers that shape better around the collage elements could be worth pursuing. A few of my earlier prints used those, with limited success.

Lower relief or larger shapes with few if any little crevices to block or slurp up ink could be the answer. I thought of Sarah Ross-Thompson’s minimalist block, peeling and tearing into mountboard, using glue and masking tape, with none of her normal textures – see her step-by-step explanation of her process at https://www.facebook.com/rossthompsonprints/posts/1069627893068427. Lynn Bailey demonstrates collagraph building using simple cut paper, card and wallpaper – see https://vimeo.com/50941703.

vlaming head lighthouse photo

vlaming head lighthouse photo

vlaming head lighthouse sketch

vlaming head lighthouse sketch

I played with a photograph of Vlaming Head lighthouse in Western Australia. Already a simple scene, it could be further abstracted into some basic shapes.

Print p4-91

Print p4-91

The idea didn’t excite me. My second collatype plate used scratching and tearing into mountboard with a variety of sealants, and the resulting prints such as p4-91 were under-whelming (13-Dec-2015). The artists I’ve mentioned above have developed tool-sets – shellac for sealant, a specific cheap house paint for encasing texture bits, particular tapes that catch more or less ink, substantial presses for intaglio printing… It was similar in the workshop I did with Jet James (16-Jul-2015) – he used a wide range of tapes, nail polishes, things from the hardware store, bits and pieces and overall knowledge built up over time.

The lighthouse design felt too similar to my recent attempts. I didn’t have immediate ideas for improving my disappointing results with torn and scratched mountboard. I looked for a different, simpler idea.

In the course notes there are photographs of student work, including one of not-quite horizontal bands, a few textures, it seems a single, dark colour. In fact it could even be the plate rather than a print – some coarse fabric shows colour that is not the background paper nor the ink colour. Either way, it is striking and effective.

I chose a new image source – photographs of the banded ironstone formations around Fortescue Falls, in the Dales Gorge of Karijini National Park. A detail could provide the varied, textured bands I wanted.

banded ironstone formation

banded ironstone formation

I still needed a better way of creating the collage block.

In the past I’ve experimented with layering tissue in modpodge, producing various levels of surface texture (original information – aztec turquoise mask research page 6-Dec-2014; bracken sketchbook 2-Jan-2015). I used off-cuts for some quick print tests.

Print p4-147
Working with each sample individually, I rolled using akua intaglio ink and printed onto cartridge paper.

Print p4-147

Print p4-147

The empty space in the right of the print was the first attempt – the highly textured, printed using a baren. No use at all.

Second right was the same highly textured tissue piece, dabbed with ink and printed using a brayer rolled heavily. Some areas printed quite well, with a crystalline appearance. Second from the left was the lightly textured bracken piece, printed by rolling with a brayer. The section on the left was the least textured tissue piece, from the aztec mask work. It was printed using the brayer.

The highly textured tissue didn’t print well, but both the others are encouraging as a printing source although not as suggesting stone texture.

Print p4-148
I rolled the gelatin plate with quinacridrone red and pressed in the roughly wiped tissue texture samples. The plate was printed onto copy paper using hand pressure.

Print p4-148 detail

Print p4-148 detail

Print p4-148

Print p4-148

Overall the print was very light. I clearly did not roll the colour well. However there is some interesting texture, particularly where colour from the earlier printing has transferred.
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Print p4-149
I inked the gelatin with a bit more care, this time using lamp black. I placed the tissue samples on the plate and covered them with newsprint before pressing gently. Newsprint and samples were then removed.

The print was taken on copy paper using the baren

Print p4-149

Print p4-149

All three samples produced interesting textures. With the colour chosen they look more stone-like.

These experiments show I can get interesting areas of collage printed texture with my current equipment and materials. I took from this that low relief without great variation in surface level between elements is key. Larger areas at the same general height also seems to improve results.

I wanted to step back from a very literal representation of the rock layers. I wanted to use textiles in my printing. Instead of simply gluing pieces onto mountboard, could I slightly embed them in something like structure gel to get more consistent height and lower relief?

An A4 piece of mountboard was used as the base. I spread it evenly with modelling paste, described on the container as “a fine texture paste with soft yet thick sculptural consistency”. I hoped that it would act as both glue and support for my textures.

collatype plate 8

collatype plate 8

Top row, left to right: Silk organza (10mm?); tussah silk; brocade; mid-weight plain weave cotton; coarse hessian, from a coffee sack.
Bottom row: Tissue silk; habotai silk (8 mm?); synthetic organza stitched lace; light plain-weave cotton; hessian.
On the right is plain modelling paste textured with a range of tools.

When the paste was dry I coated the plate with one layer of acrylic matt medium. In the collatype plate 2 experiment this gave the deepest tones in printing.

The prints below all show the top row consistently. However left and right vary depending on the print process.

Print p4-150
The plate was rolled with a mix of akua intaglio inks. I wiped a couple of spots between the brocade and the tussah silk, to see if the paste plus medium surface could be altered effectively by such techniques.

The print was taken on cartridge paper using the ezicut press.

Print p4-150

Print p4-150

Print p4-150 detail

Print p4-150 detail

In the close detail above I can see the weave structure and the ravelled edges of both the hessians and the cottons below.

I find this print very exciting. Every sample has given a different texture. I can see the pattern of the brocade, the zigzag stitching on the synthetic organza. It was easy and straightforward to print. The very coarse and thick hessian was included as a low probability, push the boundaries piece. To my surprise it printed beautifully.
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Print p4-151
The plate was rolled with a mix of akua intaglio inks. I printed onto cartridge paper using a brayer with considerable energy and force.

Print p4-151

Print p4-151

Generally only the top surface level has printed. In most areas this has led to less definition and less information.

The organza flowers in the bottom row are clearer in this print, with the stitch lines showing the shaping of the blossoms. Which version I prefer would depend on my purpose at the time.
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Print p4-152
Diarylide yellow liquid pigment was rolled on the gelatin plate. The uncleaned mountboard plate was pressed in firmly. The gelatin was printed onto cartridge paper by hand.

Print p4-152

Print p4-152

Print p4-152detail

Print p4-152detail

I haven’t liked this colour combination in the past, but chose it for easier judgment on the contribution of the different plates. The colour proportions and distribution are quite different compared to p4-139 (27-Dec-2015), in which I found the mix unpleasant. In the current sample I find the patterning intriguing, and I think the colours assist this. There is lots of interest, lots of potential, in this result.
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Print p4-153
There appeared to be a lot of ink on the mountboard plate, so I took a print on rice paper, pressing with baren and hand.

Print p4-153

Print p4-153

The result is soft, ethereal, but still with a lot of detail in most areas. I find the flowers particularly interesting. The fabric came from my mother’s wedding dress. Perhaps I will tell a story using this effect one day.
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Print p4-154
A mix of red oxide and burnt umber liquid pigment, together with the yellow still on the roller, were rolled onto the gelatin plage. The previous print had a number of areas of poor contact, particularly at the ends, so this time I pressed the mountboard into the gelatin very firmly.

The print was taken on cartridge paper using a baren.

Print p4-154

Print p4-154

This time too much colour was removed, and there was less blue on the mountboard to transfer. The print is very soft and indistinct.

It reminds me of old frescoes in photographs of Pompeii. I think the soft, unobtrusive but varied effect could be very useful as a background, or for subdued interest in a non-focal part of a work.
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Print p4-155
For this print I rolled the gelatin with lamp black liquid pigment, and tried to press the mountboard in with a moderate level of firmness.

The print was taken on cartridge paper using hand pressure.

print p4-155

print p4-155

Print p4-155 detail

Print p4-155 detail

My pressure was still not right, not even across the plate. It might be easier using another stiff board between.

The coarse hessian and the flowered organza are two stand-out results.

At this stage I felt I had enough information available to guide my choices for the banded ironstone formation collage plate. I wanted to use the same general method to create the plate. However I don’t have the results to show yet. I wanted to stop and record results so far, really examine the prints already produced, before committing.

T1-MMT-P4-p2-e3 Collatype collage prints – low texture experiments
Part 4: Mono and collatype printing
Project 2: Collatype printing
Exercise 3: Collatype collage prints
Collatype collage prints – low texture experiments

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