From the Vault: Collagraphs

The last time I pulled images from the “vault” I featured a series of digital art from several years ago. Since I’ve been showing some recent printmaking projects the last two weeks I thought it would be fun to pull out some older printmaking images to share today. As I showed you last week, I primarily print using a gelatin plate as my printmaking surface. It’s fun and easy way to print without the use of a press. Although the recent pieces were created by applying the color directly to the plate you can also use other methods for printing gelatin.  One of those methods is called a collagraph (from the word collage). Collagraphs can be constructed from different types of material or can also be made by cutting designs into mat board. Once the collagraph is assembled or designed then they are sealed with several layers of poly-acrylic spray to keep the ink or paint from absorbing into them. This is an example of a constructed collagraph:

collagraph, used (c) Lynne Medsker

It was constructed from old manilla file folders and had some details added using glue which, once dry, is hard enough to leave an impression on the printing plate. Although it was wiped cleaned between prints some of the ink remained each time and built up the colors that you see here. Most of the collagraphs that I’ve designed have been of the carved mat board variety. Using an exact-o knife to cut through the top layer of the mat board you then peel that layer off leaving an indentation where it was removed. Once it is finished and well sealed you can print in one of two different methods. The first, called a relief print, is done by rolling your ink on the top surface with a brayer, leaving the actual carved design un-inked. The opposite process is call intaglio and you apply ink to the entire plate, being sure to get it down into the carved areas and then wipe the surface clean so that only the design portion prints. Here is a collagraph show before & after printing:

"tumble" collagraph, prior to printing (c) Lynne Medsker
"tumble" collagraph (after printing) (c) Lynne Medsker

Sometimes I find that the collagraphs end up more appealing than the actual prints! “Tumble” is one of my favorites. Here is another used collagraph:

"eyes #1" collagraph (after printing) (c) Lynne Medsker

These are fun, easy projects to create “on the go” since they only require a piece of mat board and an exact-o knife. I normally have some blank pieces & my knife in my backpack when I travel, in case I am inspired to create one.  A few years ago I had taken my supplies to an outdoor art fair that featured live music & entertainment along with art. The group that happened to have the booth next to mine was the Russian Ballet Academy of Indiana. As the day progressed and I saw several of their performances I found myself creating these dancing figures.

"ballet #1" collagraph (c) Lynne Medsker
"ballet #3" collagraph (c) Lynne Medsker
"ballet #2" collagraph (c) Lynne Medsker

I never got the chance to print these because, at the end of the day, I decided to donate them to the group. They were so excited and were kind enough to give me tickets to their next performance! It was fun to have inspiration present itself and I so enjoyed the dancers and capturing their movements.

Wonder what I’ll pull out of “the vault” to share with you next time?  Me too!

Keeping us guessing,

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