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Make A Collagraph

Make a Collagraph

Printmaking with Recycled Materials

Collagraphs are handmade printing plates – usually assembled on cardboard – made from artfully arranged materials. Artists varnish the collagraph plates and let them dry. Then they ink them, and press paper to the surface to create a print. Let’s give it a shot!

1605_KCD_2What you need:

• Cardboard (the back of a notepad works great)

• Scissors

• Paintbrush

• Acrylic paint

• Paper plate or palette

• Roller (a wooden spoon also works well)

• Paper or cards on which to print

• Flat, found objects to affix to your collagraph plate:
tape, paper, cardboard, corduroy, lace, string, and yarn.

1605_KCD_3What you do:

1.Cut a piece of cardboard to the size you want your printing plate to be. This is called the substrate.

2.Select a piece of cardboard the same size as or slightly larger than the substrate, and put it aside. This is called the template.

3.Cut out shapes from various materials and practice arranging them on the template.

4.Brush a layer of paint over the cardboard substrate to seal it.

5.While the paint is still wet, arrange your objects on the painted cardboard substrate. If the paint dries while you’re still working, apply more.

6.Paint over each object to seal it to the substrate. If you are working with small or wiggly items, such as string or small beads, place them on the wet paint and let the paint dry before sealing them. NOTE: You don’t need a lot of paint – just enough to seal the objects. Your brush marks will be subtly visible on your final print, so try to be as neat as you can when applying paint. Let the paint dry overnight.

7.Place your dry collagraph plate beside the paper template on which you plan to print. Brush a thin layer of paint over the entire surface of the plate. Work fast – paint dries quickly!

8.Flip your paper face down onto the plate.

9.Carefully roll the backside of the paper, starting from the center. Go slowly, and be sure that the paper makes full contact with the plate. Test your plate multiple times; using different amounts of paint and pressure will affect your final result.

Take it further: Making a single print on a single piece of paper is sometimes called making a one-drop print. You can create a more complex image by making multiple prints on the same piece of paper or adding to your print with other media.


Visual Arts Center of Richmond
The Visual Arts Center of Richmond is a community arts center that's been helping adults and children explore their creativity and make great art since 1963.
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