Single colour prints.
The first plate I used was the embossed PVC plastic. This has been made using the reverse of the method asked for by the course manual and is a personal experiment. Instead of adhering items to the surface and printing those raised areas I placed the items on to the plate, ran it through the press – thereby embossing them into the plastic surface – removed the items and inked the plate. This was designed to produce a negative image of the collagraphed items.
Above clockwise from top left: 110gsm Cartridge paper, Kozo extra heavy, Elephant dung paper. All used dry.
For this experiment I wanted a good coverage with sharp negative images and a minimum of ink ‘liftage’. One of the recent tips I received, to improve my printing, relates to ink ‘suction’. This means the adherence of the ink to the paper when transferring. Does it seem to slightly pull back off the paper and remain on the print plate? I notice that sometimes my print plate does look very dotted after printing, as if some inked areas haven’t transferred, and this has been what’s happening I think.
A suggestion has been to reduce the viscosity of the ink by adding a tiny amount of tack reducer, no more than the size of a pea. First trials found this to be too much for this exercise and the ink slipped into the embossed areas and didn’t stay on the flat surface. I reduced it to a tiny smidge and got the results above. Rolling the ink also sounded a little less sticky and I was able to obtain a thinner rolled layer at the same time. Some success has been achieved.
I used a small roller to get into all the different areas as they aren’t all exactly the same height.
I allowed the edge of the roller to pick out some of the background areas as the gesso brush lines also provided some texture, and I ran the roller around part of the plate outer edge to pick up more of this.
First attempt on dry 110gsm Cartridge paper. Here I just wanted to check my new ink viscosity (with the tack reducer) which seems quite good. However, on dry paper there is never going to be a brilliant transfer with collagraphs because the paper doesn’t mould into the undulating surface. It was a good test to see how much ink I needed for decent coverage though. There’s a print fault line along the bottom which I didn’t notice at this stage.
First attempt on good paper. Dampened Stonehenge. Very happy with the transfer but it was at this point I saw that I have a print fault along the top edge and I immediately knew what it was. What an idiot!! My print blanket isn’t quite big enough to cover this large print plate and even though I was using my hand to add pressure afterwards to this section it wasn’t enough to give an even ink transfer. OK, time to sort that out. However, the print result is quite good, excluding that, and I quite like the background area pick-up marks.
Dampened Hahnemuhle paper. A lovely even print. Some collagraph areas had started to break down by this stage, however I was particularly pleased with the velcro dots. The difference between the hook and fluff dot sides show clearly. This indicates just how precisely marks can be made with this method.
Prior to this print the bubble wrap had completely disintegrated shedding flakes of plastic and gesso all over the place including the roller. These had to be picked off individually, which was painful but the remaining bits printed very well. The surface of the cardboard diamonds also started to come away, despite the gesso layers and sealing, and the gesso covering the sequins had rubbed off. This meant that less ink would adhere to the shiny plastic surface of the sequins but they did at least continue to print.
Interestingly, the plastic ‘stones’ from my bathmat have come out very well and the gesso still covers them nicely. Some of these ‘stones’ have a textured surface and some are completely smooth and, as with the velcro dots, you can easily see which is which. So, yes, the speckly stones are supposed to be textured whilst others are fully printed. Again, success with my tiny amount of tack reducer added to the inks.
The cocktail sticks have worked wonderfully and even though they abutt each other, due to their rounded shape, they appear to have gaps and show as individual lines. Very nice, as are the rounded end paddle-pop sticks. Overall I’m very happy with the outcome of this plate.
This is my texture plate. Molding compound on marine-ply board.
I was extremely unhappy inking up this plate. The modelling compound doesn’t level out at all, so where you put it is exactly where it stays. Having drawn into it and so on there are a few raised and fairly sharp areas which threaten to cut into my roller. No, not comfortable with this at all. I tried to remove some of the main sharper points.
The first thing I found is that it is very hard to ink a plate like this because the surface is extremely uneven and the ink only touches the very highest points, which means that hardly anything will print. Seems an awful waste of good texture. So, using a small roller, and rocking it from side to side I endeavoured to get the roller end to penetrate some of the mid level sections. This worked very well and I spent some time really inking the areas I wanted.
On the left I have the test run on dry 110gsm Cartridge paper. Good enough to show the general effect. On the right is the final print on dampened Stonehenge. I couldn’t have asked for a better result. I’m thrilled with this outcome.
I have one more texture plate to use yet and that will come into play for the next section, multi-coloured collagraph prints.
This has been very interesting and stimulating so far and I’m looking forward to trying combined colours.