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Collagraph Prints

Some of our group had a play day recently, making collagraph prints.   Yes, I had to Google it too to see what it was that we were about to do.  There are lots of YouTube videos out there that will describe it much better than I can.

A collagraph is a print made from a collage of items glued to a base board made of card, metal or similar flat surfaces.   Basically, it is a hand made printing plate which can be used to print onto fabric and paper. We printed without the aid of specialised equipment such as a printing press – so therefore it is a method of producing unique print pieces that is open and available to everyone.  We thought you might be interested in how to do it.

Firstly, it is great fun to be allowed to play with paint especially in a house other than your own so you don’t have to do the clean up!

We used mountboard as our baseplate, cut into small rectangles but you can make it any size you wish. We all brought various bits a pieces which could be used to stick on to the baseboard, with PVA glue, to make a raised pattern or texture.  Some of the items used were: lace, netting, net onion bags, loose weave fabric, threads, twine, doilies, denim fabric, card shapes and labels, rice, spagetti and tin foil.

We made six or seven plates each, with different materials and textures of varying depths.  It is very hard to judge at this stage what will make a successful print and what will just look like a paint blob!
When the glue has dried on the plate, it can be sealed using a lacquer or varnish so that it can be used over and over again.   We didn’t bother with this step as we were anxious to begin printing.


We prepared some papers and fabrics for printing by cutting to a size slightly bigger than the printing plate.  We gathered together paints or inks, brushes, water jars, mixing bowls and we put some newspapers or a folded towel on the table and covered it with some plastic.   Lay the plate down on the plastic, face upwards.   Then we were ready to print.

To print ‘in relief’ we applied paint or ink to the raised areas of the printing plate with a brush and laid our paper or fabric on top.  Then we applied gentle pressure with our hands or used a brayer to gently press the paper or fabric down onto the printing plate.   We carefully lifted the paper or fabric from the plate and, voila, we had a collagraph print!

If you like the design, you can ink up again and make as many prints as you want or overprint with a different design or the same design in a different direction.  You can also print ‘intaglio’ meaning the paint or ink is placed on the lowest areas of the plate.

The print above is the result of using crinkled tin foil – genius!

This print is the result of using the same printing plate in different directions on one piece of fabric.
This collagraph looks very pretty… a cutout butterfly from a wedding table setting glued onto a loose woven bandage.It should have made interesting textures but it just made a blob!
So watch out for snippets of these printed pieces appearing in future work and try it out for yourselves – it is good fun!

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