Some Collagraph Experiments!

Oh my – it has been SO very cold here in Wisconsin for the past week!  It’s times like this that I just love being in the studio.  And yesterday, I took the time to experiment with one of my new favorite printmaking forms – collagraph!

Back in September, I found this video about Harvey McWilliams, a printmaker from the Richmond Humanities Center in Virginia.  I’m guessing it’s from the early ’70s, and once you get past the awesomely warped soundtrack, there’s a great collagraph tutorial.  I watched this 12-minute film 5 times in a row, because I was so intrigued!  (This is one of the reasons why YouTube is so amazing. But you already knew that.)

I created my collagraph a little differently – I adhered carpet tape to a wood block my dad in-law made for me, and then placed my cut cardboard pieces onto the block (BTW – carpet tape is INSANELY sticky.  You need Goo Gone if you get it anywhere besides where you want it!).  After they were adhered, I used Mod Podge to “seal” the cardboard pieces, making them “waterproof” (Mod Podge to the rescue!  It works great!).  To prevent the carpet tape adhesive from getting on my papers, I then adhered some butcher block paper to the “open” spaces.  This also aids in clean-up when you inevitablly get ink on your block – it wipes right off of the butcher paper!


Here is a sampling of some of my prints!  If you’re intrigued by the inking, I took Akua Chromium Oxide Green and Phthalo Blue and “rainbowed” it together with some transparency base in the middle for a smooth transition.  I then brayered it right onto my block.

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9 thoughts on “Some Collagraph Experiments!”

  1. Hi, I like what you’re doing. I was an assistant to Clare Romano-Ross and John Ross, the authors of the Complete Printmaker and innovators of the Collagraph process back in the 1970s at Pratt Institute and the Pratt Graphics Center in NYC. I love doing collagraphs and think there are infinite creative possibilities in the process. Good luck and please continue to share your results!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Marc – holy smokes! I just so happen to be looking at “The Complete Printmaker” at the moment – it’s literally at my feet! What an incredible book. I was very taken with Judy Pfaff’s collagraphs in the book – she’s one of my favorite printmakers!
    Thanks so much for commenting here – it means a lot to me that you’d take the time to do so with this “newbie”! 🙂


  3. After some time spent printing monotypes, I discovered Collagraphs while in Iceland. An artist there was creating amazing plates. I had always thought Collagraphs were what preschooler did when they printed leaves, etc. This was the first time I realized I could actually create a plate. I use 1/8″ MDF board, different textural items glued to the surface and then I coat it with acrylic medium. I use Akua litho inks which I paint onto the plate in an a la poupee method. I then run it through my press. It is a very painterly process. I can never duplicate the print and so instead of designating edition numbers I note they are E.V. for Edition Variable. There’s lots of room for experimentation with this process. Have fun!!


    1. Oh Marty! You had me at “Iceland” – that is my #1 “bucket list” place to visit! To be able to print while there sounds like a dream come true. 🙂

      I love your “a la poupee” ideas!! I’ve been meaning to try that also. Are the Akua litho inks much different than their intaglio inks? I LOVE Akua! They’re what made me realize that good ink makes ALL the difference when printing (I thought I was just a really bad printmaker). 🙂

      Thanks so much for your great comment! 🙂


      1. It’s definitely worth the trip – an amazing country, so beautiful. The woman I visited is Elva Hreidarsdottir. I did not print with her. At that time the press she had was quite small. I think she often printed at another facility. You can see her amazing work at
        I rarely use a brayer. I like to paint the ink with a fairly stiff brush. And I misspoke about the ink – it’s intaglio. I also use their liquid colors that are in the bottles. It helps loosen the other ink a bit rather than the blending medium because I feel it helps to retain the color intensity. I also use the liquid to force into the lower levels of the plate. I never wipe the plates nor clean them as I love the leftover ghost like tints I get on the next print.
        Plan a trip to Reykjavik! Her studio is just a few Km’s out of the city. Wonderful people, incredible landscape.


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