the story of a collograph

The last assignment in my printing class was collography.  This is basically a collage (which becomes your printing plate) that you then ink up and print.  In theory you’d think that this would be "me".  I love collage. So I set out, designing then gluing all sorts of things.  I had the idea of a sampler or quilt and worked towards that.  The result was, well, awful.  But since it had taken me so long and I didn’t have the time, or the initiative, to make another I took this one to class.

In class we inked the plate, getting ink into all the little grooves.  Then we removed most of the ink so as to reveal an appropriate amount of detail.  What is the appropriate amount?  That is the trick to this technique.  You have to remove just enough ink so that detail is shown, but not so much that detail is lost — something best learned through trial and error as each collage will be different.  Keep in mind that we work with oil-based etching inks so this is a messy process and takes a good amount of time.  We were probably an hour into the class before I thought I might be ready to run a print.

The first run was waaaay too light, I’d taken off too much ink (or so I thought).  So I set about re-inking the plate.  Just as I’d loaded up the plate with ink our TA says, "Who put the press on the wrong settings?".  Sigh.  My plate was probably fine, another student, not working on collography, had set the press for her particular run and hadn’t reset it.  Three of us had run our plates through by this point.  Luckily for the others I had gone first so was the only one who was re-inking.  The others just ran theirs through a second time on the correct setting to good results. 

Anyway, my second run turned out waaaaay too dark.  (Yes, I did voice my complaints to the instructors, which took me totally out of my comfort zone and I’m still feeling guilty about it.)  By this time I had a blister on one finger and a blood blister on another, the inking process is hard work!



I decided to run a third time, and then a fourth with color.  I wasn’t happy with any of the results. 





The fifth time I ran the plate as a ghost, and finally got a result I didn’t hate.  Since the end of the class I’ve decided to embellish my plate with vintage seed beads from my stash and I’m actually starting to like my print.  Not love it mind you, but like it. 

If any of the early runs, or the plate itself, appeal to you, let me know and it’s yours!

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