'If you make happiness your goal, then you're not going to get to it… The goal should be an interesting life."

Dorothy Rowe

Saturday 7 August 2010

I’m in love …

with Wensleydale, of course – but also with collagraphs. [Or possibly collographs, there seems to be some disagreement.] Whichever it is, there is more information and some good examples here. I’ve wanted to try collagraphs for years, so the 100 drawings was an opportunity to get off my back side and actually make some.


So here are mine. Look, I’m just beginning, right? None are good enough to be one in a hundred - although I might cut up some of those leaves and make a collage. But I am really excited by the process.

Being me, I worked from two sets of instructions – one set by Jane Wild from the last WOW, and one set by Heidi Miracle-McMahill from an old edition of Quilting Arts. I used paper for these try-outs, but I’ll move on to fabric when I've got some more carpet tape.

IMG_2270Miracle-McMahill suggests using fun foam to make the print plates – the ordinary type for the base, and the self adhesive type for the collage.  The two plates on the left were made like this. I wondered if they would stay stuck together in use, but they did – even those small dots on the plate in the centre [well, all but one]. The disadvantage of this method is that you have a limited range of textures available – although I happened to have some fun foam which is sort of sandy textured, which I used for the leaves on the centre plate. For the other plates [only 1 shown here] I used a variety of textured papers and fabrics, stuck on to card with carpet tape and sealed with diluted PVA.

Wild suggests using a pasta machine as a press – you make a sandwich of the inked plate, some damp paper, and a piece of felt and roll it through the pasta machine. This of course limits the size you can work with – which is why the plates are long and narrow. I found the size quite restrictive and by the end was printing by hand twice on one sheet of paper. I also found that you needed good paper with the pasta-press – thinner papers crumpled or stuck to the plate – or both. I wanted to experiment with papers – emulsion painted paper of different types, backs of envelops, failed monoprints, etc. Didn’t tell you about the failed monoprints did I? – that's how failed they were - but much improved by being cut up and collagraphed on.

If you Google collagraphs you’ll find that some people say you must use a press, others say you can do it by hand. I felt I got just as good results [sometimes better] with hand pressure – but a bit of further research suggests it depends what you want to print. If you want to print the surface of the collage, hand pressure, or rubbing with a spoon or a baren, may be enough. If, on the other hand, you want to print the edges and gaps between the raised areas, you will need a lot more pressure [and a wiped plate]. Some sources suggest putting the sandwich between two pieces of board and standing on it – or omitting the boards and driving over it …

That’s probably more than you want to know about collagraphs – but if, like me, you like a touch of the unexpected in your work and have lots of textured bits and bobs lying around, they are fun to try.


Just don’t put the print sandwich though any roller of the pasta machine except the one for making lasagne. Ask me how I know.

In my defence, I've never actually used a pasta machine to make pasta – I got mine on freecycle to use with Fimo and I’ve never used it for that either. But yes, it was stupid!


I also made some books. The green  one is a little accordion with pockets, made out of one of those failed monoprints.

The other two are based on a book in Re-bound I said I’d never make. But I was fossicking around in the airing cupboard for something else -and found a redundant hot water bottle…

I changed the fastening because I couldn't get rivets through the thickness of the rubber – but that means that everything but the thread is recycled – old hot water bottle for the cover, recycled packaging for the pages and the ties.

Yes, they're odd – but fun odd! They don’t close easily, but I’ve put them under a lot of weight overnight to see is that helps.

Our current hot water bottles are a much nicer colour and much more interesting patterns. Wensleydale got quite worried when I started inspecting them …


And finally – I haven’t completely neglected the 100 drawings. I’ve been GIMPing and turned this failed bit of land art -





into this – definite improvement. 

1 comment:

Chrissie said...

what a fascinating post, thank you! I'm sure I've got a pasta machine (which has been used for its intended purpose!) in the cupboard under the stairs, so time to press it back into action ...
I loved what you did with the old hot-water bottles.