Today I took part in a print making workshop. We did two different types of print – collograph and drypoint. Both are a type of intaglio printing, which is when the printing is done from ink that is below the surface of the plate, so for example, the design may be cut, scratched, etched into the plate/surface.
I remember attempting collographing back in sixth form at my old school as part of my art and design subject, however, it was unfortunately unsuccessful and didn’t turn out at all how I wanted it, even after having several tries – eventually I gave up on the idea and stuck to just lino instead. Because of this past experience, I was a little unsure of the collograph printing when I discovered that was what we were going to be doing, although I was interested to try it again and hopefully get it tight this time.
We started the process with blank pieces of thick card made from multiple thin layers, meaning that it was possible to cut out (with a scalpel) and peel back, removing individual layers, allowing the layers beneath to be reached by the ink. I decided on going with an abstract design, as I knew from my previous experience that these seem to work better for collographing – my print was a abstract-style sun using mainly triangles. I used materials such as duck tape, masking tape, and then the different layers of card showing through, as well as scoring into the card with the scalpel. Different materials give a different print look. For example, because duck tape is a plastic, shiny, resistant surface, the ink rubs off easily so then doesn’t print as heavily as the duck tape for example, which soaks up more ink and therefore makes a darker, heavier mark.
After I had finished the design on the piece of card, I inked it up with black ink, then used a rag to wipe off excess ink using a circular rubbing motion. I also used a cotton bud to remove more ink from certain areas to add detail to the print. Meanwhile, I put a piece of paper into a tray of water to soak while I was inking the card. After putting the paper under dampening paper to take out some of the water, I put it through the giant printing press. I did two prints – the first one with black ink, then again with yellow.
To put the card through the press: first lay a scrap piece of paper under the inked up piece of card, then lay your damp piece of paper over the top of it centering the card so that it will print in the middle of the page. Lay another piece of scrap paper over the top, lift over the carpet which is attached to the press machine, then you’re ready to go. Turn the handle on the machine at a steady pace until your paper has moved all the way through. Then lift and reveal your print!
Below: The printing card and the final outcomes of my two collograph prints. I like how in the yellow one, there had been remainders of black ink from the previous print on the card which meant it came out in a musty darkish yellow with specks of black mixed in – it gives it more detail and more interest. I also like how you can see the bits where I have highlighted with the cotton bud, for example on the yellow print, around the tip of the black triangle, there is a lighter part which catches the light nicely. The places where I used duck tape have come out really white, almost as if they’re glowing, and then the black bits are sections that I have cut out with the scalpel and peeled away layers of the card. The darker the area, the more ink that section absorbed and therefore printed.
I had never done drypoint printing before today so had no idea what it was – I didn’t enjoy it as much as the collographing, but it was still great to do.
We used a sharp marking tool to scratch into an acrylic plate. I didn’t know what to draw on mine, so I just drew a cat, as this is what I drew in my Nursery Rhyme Book that I made for the story brief with Olwen and Jay. I had to make sure that I wrote the word ‘meow’ backwards on the plate as when it printed it would come out in reverse.
Just like collographing, I put ink onto the plate and then wiped off the excess ink so that it left just what was left in the etched areas, printing just that. The process from here on in is exactly the same as collographing – put it through the printing press and voila!