I love the the hands-on process of collagraph printing and the unpredictability of the textures that can be achieved. I’ve been thinking of different ways to combine stitch and print in my work, so when a great opportunity to use a printing press for free came up, I jumped on it! Actually there’s still some confusion about whether the machine is a printing press or a clay press. Anyway, with a little customisation I managed to make prints with it…so I’m happy!
I’ve previously used digital transfer printing and screen-printing in my stitched portraits. I’m now thinking of ways to print on paper, using a combination of stitching and paper. I found some samples of stitching on paper that I’d made a few years ago and decided to use them to see how well stitching would print.
I printed my sample plates using the intaglio technique, which is one way of printing collagraphs, the other is relief. For intaglio printing the ink is pushed into all the marks and cracks, then some of the surface ink is wiped away to reveal the texture of the plate. Damp paper is placed on top of the plate and run through the press, pushing the paper into the grooves and transferring the ink onto the paper.
The image above shows one of the collagraph print samples made from machine stitched paper. The image below shows the four stages of the collagraph plate. Top left – stitched paper sample glued to cardboard to make plate, top right – plate sealed with shellac, bottom left – print sample, bottom right – cleaned plate with ink residue.
This is clearly just a starting point, I need to experiment with the pressure on the press and inking and wiping. Although my intentions were to use the intaglio process, I think most of these look like they’ve been printed in relief. A way to go then before I can achieve anything near my desired outcomes!
Below are some of the other collagraph prints with the stitched samples before they became collagraph plates. Thanks to Lynn Bailey from Double Elephant for the tip of using paint to stick down delicate materials on to the collagraph plate…great tip!