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mermaid collagraph print
Mermaid with a Pirate Scope 6.5×4.25 Collagraph with metallic pigment, ink & watercolor (sold)

Available in my Etsy Shop (an open edition, with variation between each hand pulled print)

See the process shots below….

If you’d like to see more process shots on making collagraphs, search this blog for “collagraph”, and see previous posts like this one, this one and this one. 🙂 #makesomething

Origins of this art: It started with a doodle in my day planner (on the left)
after chatting on the phone with my step dad about a book
he sent me called Tinkerbelle, written by Robert Manry about
his experience sailing a tiny, open13.5 foot boat alone across the Atlantic
in 1965. (It took him 78 days. He hallucinated a lot from sleep deprivation,
and I wondered if he saw mermaids.) 🙂

Building a collagraph like this starts with a piece of scrap matboard,
with a drawing on the reverse side, coated front and back
with Liquitex Gloss Medium & Varnish.
After sealing my drawing with the liquitex, I added texture with
shapes punched from newsprint and adhered with more varnish (nice & thin).
I hammered an awl into the matboard to create those teeny dots to hold ink.
Using an exacto-knife, I carved my line work out of the top layer of the matboard,
adjusting width where I wanted linear grooves & troughs to hold ink.
When I was satisfied with the carving, and additional textures, I sealed the whole plate
font, back and edges again with Liquitex Gloss & Varnish.
The medium makes the plate feel like plastic; its nice and sturdy for inking,
wiping and rolling through the press.
Using the a la poupee method, with Akua Intaglio Inks,  I applied pigments to the plate
in sections, pushing ink into the grooves and textures I built on the plate.
After wiping the plate with newsprint, I added a little more pigment to the plate
around her scales and hair with a bristle brush, but when I printed, the inks were a bit
splotchy, so I tried again, without adding more ink (below).
On this proof, I added Akua Intaglio metallic gold ink mixed with a bit
of green to her fish scales, but the trip through the etching press squished the metal flakes
against the plate and never adhered to the paper, so I have more experimenting to do.
I’m in touch with the good folks at Akua and they’ve made a few suggestions.
To save the step of re-applying ink to her hair after wiping the plate,
I added 120 grit carborundum (sand paper grit) mixed with medium. This will act like
thousands of little teeth to hold ink, resulting in rich darks.
Even after wiping the plate, the texture of the carborundum held enough
ink to print a nice, rich dark. I love this stuff.
It chews up your tarlatan cloth, but it does the trick.


I’ve printed just three from the plate so far (an open edition), but I want to experiment
with release agent under metallic ink before pulling more prints. In the meantime,
on the print at the top of this post,  I added metallic powder with gouache binder to
her scales & hair, with a brush,  so she’s got some nice shimmer now. 🙂
I love a good work-around.
mat board collagraph of a mermaid
Pretty Mermaid in a frame, ready to delight on someone’s wall. 🙂
So, are you ready to make a collagraph? Each print will come out different from the last, and you can paint them with any medium you choose, so it’s an art party waiting to happen. Let us know in the comments if you’ve made a collagraph, and especially if you posted it somewhere we can see, drop a link!

Here’s a video tutorial for making a line-style collagraph from matboard:

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you in the next post!
P.S. You can subscribe to get these blog posts via email (it’s free) by signing up here.

Art Quote
There is nothing so discouraging as a bad composition at the very start. Do most of your “changing” in composition before you begin to paint, for at the beginning, when you are fresh, it is easy to change a composition. It is just “blocked in” and there it nothing to “spoil” yet. 
~John E. Carlson

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4 thoughts on “Mat Board Collagraph: Mermaid with a Pirate Scope”

  1. I voted for you, Belinda! It was a pleasure to be able to vote! You really DO have the most wonderful blog, such great photos, such thoughtful explanations, so inspiring, so thorough! A very valuable resource for any artist! Thank you!

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