color collagraph print of a nude in a bathtub

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Nude Figurative Portrait Collagraph Print

This nude figurative collagraph print was part of a series of carborundum tests I experimented with over the summer. More on the carborundum test results in a later post. [Subscribe to this blog here.]

a collagraph print in process
Applying loose grit to wet shapes of acrylic varnish on a mat board collagraph plate

Adding Carborundum Grit to a Collagraph Plate

Adding loose sandpaper grit (carborundum) to acrylic varnish on a mat board collagraph plate will create areas of texture to hold intaglio ink, even after wiping the plate.

Carborundum can be sprinkled onto wet acrylic varnish (see photo above), or mixed with the varnish in advance and applied while still wet to the plate.

Ink stays embedded in the mini-crevices around the grit – so those sand-paper-textured hills and valleys will print concentrated, rich inks, even after wiping the plate intaglio style.

Ready to apply Cranfield Caligo Safewash intaglio printmaking ink to a mat board collagraph plate treated with carborundum grit.

Carborundum Gel for Intaglio Printmaking

Instead of using loose carborundum powder mixed by hand in the studio with an acrylic varnish, you can purchase carborundum gel, made by Akua. (<—-Here is a link to it on Amazon)

A jar of carborundum gel is *super* convenient to use (I’ve tried so many carborundum methods, and this one is excellent) because there’s no mess with loose carborundum grit everywhere.

Also, the gel to carborundum ratio is consistent with each application, which gives you predictability in your values.

Plus, the gel is viscous enough to keep the grit suspended, and evenly distributed in the base for simple application with a dipped brush or scraper.

That means you can apply the grit to the plate in thin layers to control the darks on your collagraph print. A single layer gives a little grit. Multiple layers will accumulate enough grit to print in rich dark pigments. (I’ll share my test swatches on this process in a future post.)

Inking and wiping an intaglio mat board collagraph plate carved for linear elements, and also treated with carborundum grit. You can see where the carborundum gel held the ink in the figure’s hair and the shadows around her body.
Pulling the print after running the collagraph plate against printmaking paper through my etching press.
Surveying how the darks and halftones printed with various layers of carborundum gel applied to the plate
Three of four mat board collagraph prints of this figurative nude in a bathtub, printed with Cranfield Caligo Safewash ink, drying in the studio.
Using the same mat board collagraph plate, inked in color this time, printing on top of the same black-inked prints.
Pulling another color collagraph print of the figurative nude bathtub study
Three of the four-color portrait prints in this tiny edition of nude figurative collagraphs. (They are listed in my Etsy shop here.)
Here is a playlist of collagraph video tutorials from my YouTube channel. I hope you find them helpful in your exploration of this totally fun, very accessible printmaking method.

If you have any questions or comments about making a figurative collagraph print using carborundum gel, leave me a note in the comments, and I’ll get right back to you.

In the meantime, thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you in the next post –


P.S. Watch Susan Rostow demonstrate the use of carborundum gel to make a mezzotype in this tutorial video.

Spend More Time with your Art Supplies
Six Tips to Make More Art

Art Quote

Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but, most of all, endurance.

~James Baldwin

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2 thoughts on “Nude Figurative Portrait Collagraph Print”

  1. What an informative post! It’s got that painterly x-factor. Many thanks Belinda for more inspirational work. How you do it year after year is beyond my thoughts. But we are grateful you do.

    1. Hi David, Thanks for your encouragement! I’m happy to read that you’re inspired, and I look forward to seeing what’s percolating from your studio these days. Fall is usually a productive season for artists. Less activity time outdoors, and more creating time inside. I hope your Fall is ripe with ideas and projects.

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