Collagraph Printmaking: Cape Dory Book Club


Cape Dory Book Club 7.25 x 10 Collagraph    Available in my Etsy Shop.

How to Make a Mat Board Collagraph

If you’re new to collagraph printmaking, you might enjoy watching the process in tutorial videos I posted on my youtube channel here.  This post will show you some of the steps to make an intaglio style mat board collagraph.

Is this the only way to make a Collagraph?

Collagraphs are printed in a variety of ways, with a myriad of materials in print studios worldwide. I’d like to share an inexpensive collagraph printmaking method, using scrap mat board, acrylic varnish, a blade and water-based printmaking ink. (All supplies are listed with links below.)

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Pulling the first collagraph art print – an artist proof.  This will be a fun to print, since I’ll get to experiment with adding watercolor on each piece in the edition (15).

Using a Press to print a mat board collagraph

After a trip under the press, with soaked and blotted paper on top of the plate, you can see the results of the pressure (in the photo above); the paper is embossed with the shape of the voids I cut & peeled out of the mat board collagraph plate.  The soaked paper is flexible enough to drape into the recessed areas I cut from the mat board. The paper will collect the ink I added to the plate, and the pigments will transfer to the paper when pulled from the print.

Sealing & Inking a Mat Board Collagraph

After adding gloss medium to the pencil marked and carved channels, I poured carborundum (sand paper grit) on them. I let everything dry, and removed any excess grit, and coated the whole plate front & back with one more thin layer of Gloss Medium Varnish.

In the photo above, I inked the plate using the a la poupee method, with rolled and taped felt, or “dollies”, dipped into ink, and them rubbed on the plate in sections of color. This is a great way to do a multiple color print from one plate, and with one pass through the press. And the effects are often quite painterly.

What’s Carborundum?

I planned to use carborundum on this plate, because I loved the fun experiments on the Sinking In collagraph, so I’ve scribbled pencil in specific furrows to map where I want to add gloss medium to adhere the grit, which will give me some rich dark areas when they’re inked.

This is another simple crescent mat board collagraph plate, sealed with a few layers of Liquitex Gloss Medium Varnish. I’m peeling the top layer off the back (smooth side) of the mat board in geometric wells so the ink can loiter in the recesses shapes. The gloss medium makes peeling easier because it gives the upper-most layer of mat board a plastic texture that doesn’t rip unless it’s been cut with an xacto knife. This is key to controlling your cutting and shapes.

Make Something Soon

Have you ever made a collagraph before, because if you’re interested in trying one, and you don’t have a press, this video tutorial might be helpful. And if you’ve made collagraphs, please share your tips & resources in the comments.

Thanks so much for stopping by, and I’ll see you in the next post!


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(Some of the links in this post are affiliates, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I ‘ll earn a tiny commission if you make a purchase. I’m grateful for your support. It helps towards art supplies so I can continue to share my experiments here with you.)

Supply List (with links)

Mat Board


X-Acto knives:

Standard xacto knife

Retractable #9 (small) blade knife

Fiskars Swivel Tip Finger Knife

Fiskars Fingertip Craft Knife

Rubber Pencil Grip

(I have one on an xacto knife to help with finger-fatigue in some of the tutorial videos)

Liquitex Gloss Medium & Varnish

Paint Brushes

Rubber Gloves

Akua Ink starter set

Akua MagMix (modifier to thicken the ink)

Akua Transparent Base

storage jars for leftover ink

BFK Rives paper Heavier Weight (for use with a press)

BFK Rives paper (lightweight) for use with hand rub/transfer
(*recommended over the Kozo paper below if you plan to add other media*)

Kozo Mulberry paper (for hand rub/transfer – no wet media should be added to the finished print)

Tarlatan cloth

Pointed Q-tips

Self Healing Cutting Mat

Colored Pencil (optional media to add to your prints)


Non-skid liner to secure your plate while inking & cutting

metal ruler with cork back for paper tearing

spatula for mixing/laying out ink

Mylar sheets (tape one down to mix ink on, if you don’t have a piece of glass)

Takach etching press

Art Quote

Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.
~ Richard Feynman

Click the chalk art to get more details on this fast, effective online course!


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3 Responses to Collagraph Printmaking: Cape Dory Book Club

  1. Marian Fortunati August 29, 2011 at 6:24 pm #

    Amazing, Belinda!!
    What a fascinating process… with beautiful results!!

  2. Belinda Del Pesco August 29, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    Hi Carol, I could get quite a few, as the plate is plenty sturdy, but I’ll likely pull 15-20 in a variety of colors. Thanks for your compliments. 🙂

  3. Carol Blackburn August 27, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    Wonderful, Belinda. How many prints will you get from this one?

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