Back in 2017 I attended a very good and frantically busy workshop exploring a range of printing methods. During the course we each constructed a collagraph plate, Shellacked, then inked and printed them. This was mine:
On the left is the basic plate – mountboard, torn masking tape, PVA glue with gritty sand sprinkled over, cut textural paper and narrow knife slashes through the board. On the right is the plate once Shellacked, making the textures more visible.
I’ve always liked this plate but have had difficulty getting the glue & grit part to print well. I looked at my original print and did a straight forward reprint to compare.
The left image is the original print from 2017. I thought it was great at the time. Experience over the last 5 years has improved my inking ability and my understanding of how to work with printmaking paper, but I’ve still got the speckling in the grit areas.
I decided to stipple those sections with varnish hoping they would then retain ink in the recesses and on the surface to a lesser extent, giving me a fully printed area with tonal variation.
After one layer of stippled varnish this is the print result. It’s certainly eliminated the speckling but even though I tried very hard I couldn’t remove enough ink from the surface to achieve any tonal variety. Now it appears too solid and heavy compared to the rest of the piece. This isn’t what I’m seeing in my head and hasn’t as yet got to the result I’m searching for.
So, what to do? It’s an old plate and I’m happy to experiment on it and if I ruin it so be it. I’m mulling over whether to remove these heavy areas by cutting down a layer or two into the mountboard base and lifting those sections out. By doing that I can start again and create new textural effects and I might get more success.
As I’m currently involved with a few other projects this one will have to wait for a while, but I’ll get back to it eventually.