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Make a Collagraph Print from Mat Board

Have you made a collagraph print from mat board, and printed it in the a la toupee method, intaglio style?

After drawing on the back of the mat board, and then sealing it with glossy, acrylic varnish, I’m cutting and peeling
the top layer away to expose the fuzzy innards of the mat board layers.
a collagraph print in process
I’ve wet the area of her hair with Liquitex Gloss Varnish
and sifted a thin layer of #120 grit carborundum into the space. This rough texture (it’s sand paper grit) will hold ink later, leaving dark, pigmented areas, even after I’ve wiped the plate intaglio-style. The entire plate gets sealed with one more layer of gloss varnish.

A La Poupée Inking

After laying out ink colors (see above) I plan to use on the plate to print the edition, I’m using rolled felt daubers (or “dolls”, translated from the French word poupee) to apply different colors to the mat board collagraph plate.

The ink is rubbed into all the incised lines, and against the textured recessed shapes carved into the rear side of the mat board.

After ink is applied, in all the colors I’d like on the collagraph print, the wiping begins

Intaglio Printing

The word intaglio (with a silent g) is Italian and it means “to engrave”. In traditional printmaking, m when you print intaglio style, you’re wiping the uppermost surface of the plate cear of all ink, and leaving it nested in the engraved or recessed lifework in the plate.

By carving into the back of the mat board, your design is dependent on this premise: anything recessed will transfer the most pigment, and all the upper surfaces will have sheer values, based on how much ink you’ve wiped away from the flat, relief areas of your plate.

After a trip through my etching press, you can see the varied texture of my collagraph plate.

Varied Texture Printmaking

In the photo above, you can see the rough carborundum in the hair of the figure. Look at the thin incised lines that outline the figures arms holding the baby. The figure’s swimsuit also has a pattern of flower-shaped paper cut-outs attached to the surface.

All of those split-level and texture variations collect ink against the curbs and recesses to make a more interesting print.

a collagraph print of a woman teaching a baby to swim
Pulling the collagraph print from the plate after a trip through the press
Collagraph Prints drying in the studio

Collagraph Print Video Tutorials

If you’re looking for more collagraph printmaking videos that use mat board and full color inks, have a look at the entire playlist of collagraph printmaking videos on my channel here.

collagraph print of a young woman with an Enfant in a swimming pool
First Swim 7×7 Collagraph print

Make a Collagraph at Home

I hope you’ll research all the excellent workarounds clever artists have shared for making intaglio prints at home. These days, if you don’t have a press at home, or in your classroom, that shouldn’t stop you from making beautiful intaglio prints like collagraphs and drypoints.

A group on Facebook called Craft Press Printmakers is loaded with clever ways to alter craft stenciling and embossing machines into perfect little table-top presses. There are all sorts of ideas for turning your pasta maker into a sweet little press over here.

Have fun experimenting with your printmaking projects, and I’ll see you in the next post!


P.S. Do you know about Print Day in May?

printmaking supplies and ink on a glass topped table

 Art Quote

One night, Alberto (Giacometti) found himself late at the Cafe de Flore.  Most of the other customers had left, but at an adjacent table sat a man alone. Presently he leaned toward Alberto and said, “Pardon me but I’ve often seen you here, and I think we’re the sort of people who understand each other. I happen to have no money on me. Would you mind paying for my drink?” That was the kind of request Alberto could never have refused. He promptly paid for the stranger’s drink. A conversation ensued, and it did seem that the two men were the sort of people who understood each other. Twenty-five years later, it would be worth recalling that their friendship had begun with such an optimistic assumption. The man was Jean-Paul Sartre.

James Lord, Giacometti: A Biography
A little red tabby cat asking if you’d like to make art more often
Visit Six Tips to Paint More for some ideas to get back to your art

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