grit & glue … collagraphs & carborundum

Moonlit lochs © Mari French 2013. Collagraph & carborundum print.

Moonlit lochs, collagraph & carborundum print. © Mari French

I recently attended another two day printmaking workshop, this time on Collagraph and carborundum, with tutor/master printmaker Laurie Rudling. The venue was at Cley on the north Norfolk coast, and was part of the Cley 2013 art festival.

This was the second of Laurie’s printmaking courses I’ve attended, the first being two years ago (see previous post). I needed a refresher because by the time I got a press and a studio to use it in I had lost all confidence in using it on my own (more the technicalities of the press rather than the actual printmaking … stupid, I know).

Basically collagraphs are prints made from collaged ‘plates’ – usually just thick card, layered with many different everyday materials eg. wallpaper, plants, cloth, tissue, string, ad infinitum, glued to the base. The plates are then sealed with several coats of varnish and inked up for printing. The addition of carborundum (a type of grit) enables large areas of denser colour (see the mountain area in the larger print above).

Although some prints, such as linocuts, woodcuts etc, can be obtained by hand pressure to a certain extent, collagraph prints do really require a press due to the complexity of the image and need to force the paper into the gaps between the collaged materials.

The small prints below were created by painting with PVA glue on sandpaper block, as simple as that and yet it is possible to achieve a range of interesting effects. I particularly like the sea area in this one. Overturning the usual notions of colour use in the second inking up gave an interesting result, almost an Arctic night image.

Sandpaper & glue print © Mari French 2013

Sandpaper & glue print © Mari French 2013

Sandpaper & glue print © Mari French 2013

Sandpaper & glue print © Mari French 2013

Anyway, I aim to get my press up and running this week, it would be great to have some prints to put in my solo show at Greyfriars Art Space in King’s Lynn in September alongside my acrylic/mixed media works.

For more detailed information and inspirational images on Collagraph printmaking one of the best books on the subject has to be ‘Collagraphs and mixed media printmaking’ by Brenda Hartill and Richard Clarke.