Modern Makers Blog - Part 3: Collagraphy Printing


Written by Modern Makers participant Emily Tough.

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When I arrived, people were busy dabbing their collagraphy work. Collagraphy printing is where you apply textures to a rigid surface to imprint onto paper. We had each assembled our images onto card to do this, using Japanese tissue paper, sand, glue, varnish, as well as cutting out of the original card, you create a textured surface which picks up the ink in a variety of ways. This transfers onto the paper to create an interesting array of depth depending on how well the material used soaks up the ink. The varnish creates lighter textures for example, whereas the tissue paper imprints darker shapes. Some of the images we had made came off a lot better then others, and it was a matter of experimenting with the varying elements of texture to understand what works.

Hugh then introduced us to Toner-type. Toner-type uses old printer ink and floor varnish mixed together to create a paste, which is then painted onto melinex. One of Hugh’s very own inventions. He explains that the floor varnish is used as the adhesive for the ink, which came in powder form, literally just lifted out of an old industrial printer. What was so useful about this particular varnish is that it dried quickly. Unluckily, however, it had recently gone out of production. Hugh kindly allowed us to use some of his remaining bottle, as he experimented himself with a few other varnishes he hoped would suit the job.

We each trialled out toner-type, adding and including other print methods on-top or with the images we were producing. Including etching, where by you engrave out lines with pick up the ink for transferral. Hugh also demonstrated the use of sandpaper to create transferable texture, as he sent it through the press on top of his melinex, this imprinted a rough surface onto the melinex which took up the ink in interesting ways. He also encouraged me to make stencils, cutting out shapes which I could use to transfer colour into specific parts of my print.

Amongst all the activity Hugh found a replacement quick drying varnish! And we were all much pleased Toner-type printing could continue. The day was filled with experimentation and learning. We each created very different images using the techniques shown us. It was interesting to see individual styles emerge out of the printing techniques we were all sharing.

Written by Modern Makers participant Emily Tough.