Color Tetrapak Collagraph Print

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Color Tetra Pak Collagraph Print

I veered off the Mokulito (Wood Litho) printmaking trail to take a little hike with Tetra Pak prints this week. If you’re not familiar, Tetra Pak is the material used to package boxed soup, wine, almond milk, and the like.

The foil and plastic lining in Tetrapak containers wipes clear of ink, and the layer just under the foil – after you cut a shallow shape and peel it away – is rough enough to hold inks for printing intaglio style.

Using an exacto knife to carve shallow shapes and peel away the uppermost layer of foil from the interior of a Tetra Pak broth box.
The foil also scores well, so you can draw into it by depressing the lining with the tip of a twisted scribe. After all the scribing and carving/peeling is finished, the entire Tetra Pak (front, edges, and back) gets sealed with a layer of acrylic gloss varnish to prohibit moisture and oil absorption from inks and cleaning.
I inked the plate a la poupee style, and pressed it against spritzed and blotted BFK Rives printmaking paper on my Takach etching press.
After the ink dried, I increased the saturation and contrast in the print with colored pencils. (It’s available here.)

Inventive Art Supplies Book

Janine Vangool is the creator and publisher of Uppercase – a quarterly craft, illustration, and design journal. In addition to the magazine, Janine publishes books on designers and creatives, as well as media topics like Stitched Illustration, Printmaking, and Ceramics.

Her most recent book publication is called Art Supplies – Ingredients of Creativity, and it profiles about fifty artists focused on the origins, lore, and love of art-making ingredients, materials, and accessories. I’m honored to be included in this lovely publication.

Uppercase magazine’s new book on Art Supplies – Ingredients of Creativity

Resourceful Art Supplies

During the Pandemic lockdown, like many artists, I scoured the house for atypical art supplies. In retrospect, testing unintended printmaking plates and transfer methods was a perfect distraction to ward off the anxiousness skulking around the globe.

I test printed drypoint engravings and monotype prints from plastic food containers – and collagraph prints from popsicle cartons.

I also tested hand-transfer methods for tiny drypoints for artists who don’t have presses. (I was one of you press-less artists for decades, and I remember that I *pined* for alternatives to a press.)

A few of my experiments are in the Upcycled section of this book. It’s beautifully printed, and the pages feel good in your hands. There’s a video flip-through of the book below. (You can order one here.)

The book includes lovely essays about the use of everything from standard art supplies to recycled materials from artists all over the world.
Here’s a mini tour of the Uppercase book Art Supplies.

Upcycled Art Supplies

Here are some of the posts from my experiments with printmaking using recycled household materials:

Pulling a petite drypoint print from recycled plastic, transferred with a soup spoon.

Artist Test Pilots…

They say necessity is the mother of invention, so a shortage of conventional art supplies guided a torrent of printmaking experiments worldwide.

All those fun ideas were shared online so other artists could give them a twirl too. Yayyy for sharing, and Yayy again for the gentle reminder that as artists, we are born experimenters. None of us are born with artsy-know-how, but we *are* all born as naturally curious children.

Our challenge is to guide the grumpy-judges we procured as adults into a time-out closet, to extend permission, and territory and time for our curious, experimental, busy hands. Fire your critic for the day, and make something.

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


P.S. Artists using recycled packaging for printmaking are sharing lovely work on Instagram – like Karen Wicks, Sue Brown, Sarah Conner, and Sam Hodge.

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8 thoughts on “Color Tetrapak Collagraph Print”

  1. Belinda, your Tetra Pak collagraph print looks stunning! It’s amazing to see how creative you’ve been during the pandemic, exploring unconventional printmaking methods with household materials. The Uppercase book on Art Supplies sounds fascinating, and your inclusion is well-deserved. Keep inspiring others with your inventive artistry and experimentation. Bravo!

  2. Hi Belinda – finally tried the tetrapak drypoint printing – thanks to your great instructions. Love it ! Do you save the plates to use again? How do you clean them?

    1. Hello Ada! Thanks for the feedback – I’m glad you gave it a go. I do save the plates to make more, but that’s totally up to you. I clean mine with a damp paper towel – since I’m using Akua inks and they clean up with water. Then I fold a piece of clean newsprint around the plate, put it in a folder with the title, date, print-type, edition size on the label, and store it with all my other prints in baskets arranged alphabetically.

    1. Hi Wendy, WHen hand-printing, I find that thinner paper, with very little texture works best. Lightweight (180gsm) BFK Rives ( ) is nice paper, with a bit of a drape, two deckeld edges, and great adherence to printmaking ink under a spoon or a baren. If printing from a gelli plate, I also like Arnhem 1618 ( ), though it’s a heavier, stiffer paper, it’s lovely and has a satiny bright white finish. Thanks for your good wishes… I appreciate that. 🙂

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