Test Collagraph Block

For this test collagraph block I gathered a range of different materials to create the textured surface including:

  • Fabric
  • Rubber bands
  • Velcro
  • Cotton wool pads
  • Lentils
  • Rice
  • Fennel seeds
  • Linguine pasta
  • Sponge
  • Glue dots
  • Tin foil
  • Kitchen roll
  • String
  • Washers
  • Cotton buds
  • Pennies

Here is the used collagraph test block. I decided to use a piece of board that I had already worked from so you can see some colour underneath the objects and inking. Most of the objects were quite straightforward to glue onto the board using a standard PVA and rough bristled brush. For the more porous objects I was quite liberal with the glue, such as the sponge, cotton wool pad and kitchen roll. In contrast I used the glue more sparingly for the more solid objects such as the pennies and the washers as I didn’t want the glue to pool and affect the overall inking. Once the PVA was dry I added another layer of oil based varnish.

To test the block I used a smaller piece of paper which wouldn’t provide a border but I just wanted to see how the different objects would print to help inform how I moved forward with the subsequent prints. Unfortunately the glue dots (top third from the right)are apparently too shallow in stature so it meant as I used the roller over the board I inevitably inked the board causing some smudging. The rubber bands have printed well and provide a solid inking (bottom second from the right). The pennies also I’m quite pleased with as they have provided a clear round structure and even picked up on some of the surface detail. Lastly the more interesting objects I found where the subtle textures of for example the sponge, cotton wool pad, kitchen roll and tin foil.

Here is one of the first prints I created, I had applied a fine mist of water onto the paper in order to make it more flexible. Although the student guidance advised soaking the paper, my tutor had informed me actually using a fine mist spray bottle could achieve a similar result. As you may be able to see though there are some areas of the page where there was still too much water on the surface which has caused a blurring effect. Unfortunately I have also caused some accidental marks and smudges around the border too so this first print wasn’t very successful.

Moving onto a subsequent print I made using the same type of paper (Zerkall Block Printing and Etching Paper, 145gm). I was more careful this time in applying the ink to the glue dots, there is some smudging but I think this is more successful than the previous. The seeds, lentils and rice print well giving a scattered dimpled impression however I am more drawn to the boldness of the pennies, washers and rubber bands.

Here is the final print using the Zerkall paper, unfortunately again the glue dots weren’t successfully printed however I’m happy with how all of the other elements have printed. the linguine and cotton wool buds are clear, as are the string and velcro strips cut into triangles. The sponge and carpet have also printed well proving definition fo the overall shape and the texture of the surface.

For the final prints I switched to using a thinner Japanese paper called Shoji. I hoped that the thinner paper would help in picking up on any finer details in the print. I think this has worked well, you can clearly see the fine bristling of the velcro triangles and the strips of textured carpet fabric samples.

Lastly, here is the final print form the collagraph test blocks. The glue dots unfortunately are still not printing clearly but I’m resigned to the fact that because of the surface height this would always be difficult to achieve, it is however a great learning point for me in understanding the challenges of collagraph printing. There too have been successes in the collagraph test block, the pennies washers and rubber bands have printed well and I particularly enjoy the textures created by the foil and kitchen roll. The smaller items I think are a little unexciting so I don’t think I will be continuing to experiment with these elements moving forward.

For this Assignment I have chosen the above three prints as the most successful.

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