slightly wonky

Collagraph and book review

I made a new collagraph plate this week.  What is a collagraph,  you may ask?  I’ll give you the description provided by the book that I’m also going to review.

“Collagraph is essentially an experimental form of printmaking which involves adding layers of adhesive or solid material to the surface of a printing plate, making it possible to incorporate both relief and intaglio printmaking methods on a single plate.” – Brenda Harthill & Richard Clarke

While some types of printmaking, like engraving, require pricey copper plates…collagraph is about using whatever you’ve got to make a plate.  It is like making a collage.  In fact, the word “collagraph” is based on the Greek word “kollo”, which means “to glue”.

For my birthday, I asked for a couple of books, one of them being, Collagraphs and Mixed Media Printmaking by Brenda Harthill and Richard Clarke.  It is such a fascinating book.  It is not an in-depth, how-to guide.  There are only a few places where any steps to making and inking a collagraph plate are shown.  There are, however, many images of collagraph prints by various artists.  One thing that is particularly interesting about collagraphs is that it is often unclear how a print was made.  For example, a drypoint print is somewhat self-explanatory.  A hard plate (copper or plexi typically) is scratched with a sharp tool, and this is how the image is created.  But for a collagraph…who knows how the artist got the shapes and textures that they did on their print!  It’s suprising how very mundane things can be wonderful printing surfaces.  This is a great book if you already like collagraphs, but should not be your introductory book, as it mostly shows final products, not process.  Has anyone else out there read it?  Comments to add?

Here is my collagraph print this week:

and a detail:

I like this print.  It has a sort of surreal, Miro-esque quality to it.  What do you think?  This is a 9″x12″ plate.  Maybe I’ll make an even larger one!  I thinking about doing a large, full bleed print in this “series”.  Why not, right?  It’s just time, energy, sweat and tears, right?  Okay, that’s a little dramatic.  Maybe.


8 Comments so far
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i really , really like these two collographs and was grateful you wrote the book review as i had no idea what a collograph was before i read it.. looks a very interesting way to work with fascinating results.

Comment by Ruth

Thanks, Ruth! Yes, I’m never sure if I’m being repetitive by explaining how-to, but I’ll try to do that more!

Comment by slightlywonky

These remind me of Calder in 2d.

Comment by lisa foster

Oh, that’s interesting!!! These do look like his mobiles, etc.!

Comment by slightlywonky

A very useful new book on Collagraph showing very clear step-by-step methods is “Collagraph, a journey through texture” by Kim Major-George. Full colour technical book – breathtaking !
It takes the absolute beginner through the whole process and is packed with suggestions on materials to use (or not to use ! ). Easy to obtain from her website where you can get a signed copy with a dedication if you like or from Amazon. Well worth it.

Comment by Michael

Thanks so much!!!! This is a great help. Do you also do collagraph printmaking, or any other kind of printmaking?

Comment by slightlywonky

My wife, Kim Major-George is the collagraph printmaker, so perhaps I was a bit cheeky posting on your forum. It’s just that she is the creative half and leaves me to do tear my hair with the computer. She absolutely loves the collagraph genre – lives and breathes it. She exhibits her work all round the UK, teaches collagraph at all levels at her studio at home in Hertfordshire and at Art Centres and wrote and published her book last year. She has also designed an affordable A2 printing press, which she sells in the UK and abroad – 3 units were even sent to Botswana last year. She is the Founder and President of the Beds, Bucks & Herts Print Society (BBH )which was formed to attract printmakers who think “outside the box” by mixing hand pulled printing methods with other media. You can see her work and activities on her website. I can’t keep up with her ! Sweet blessings.

Comment by Michael

WOW! I am so excited that you contacted me! Thank you for sharing all of this. Kim sounds like a printmaking force to be reckoned with. How incredible! Well, I wish you both continued success and happiness. Please keep in touch!

Comment by slightlywonky

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