Printing With Collagraphs


IMG_3839This is the collagraph I made that I didn’t take to class as I had some issues with it buckling in some areas.  So I added additional glue and put a very heavy book on top to flatten everything down.  Once it was flattish (as above), I inked it with a roller in three colors and this is what I got:

I rolled out the ink onto my brayer and applied the paper, used the baren, and this is what I got for number 1.  I tried this again, but my brayer is not the right type of brayer for collagraphs and I couldn’t get a better print.  In print 2, I applied the ink with a brush and then put the paper on and rubbed.  I got a better print, but there was too much ink.  Then I took a second print, number 3, and got a better print.  Not being happy with any of these prints (although my tutor thinks they are ok), I rolled out the ink on my gel plate, pressed the collagraph into that and got these:


These are not good, but you can see where I was going with the ink.  So I stuck my inky collagraph into a plastic bag and took it to class.  I showed it and the prints to my tutor and he took it straight to the printing press and pulled off two really nice prints that are drying on the racks.  I will have to show them to you next week.  Because I was really frustrated with my collagraph, I printed some more circles on the gel plate.

The blue ink really does not like my gel plate, but it does give a nice watery effect that I played around with, without any real success.  I’m determined not to let it beat me.

In any event, Printing Class 3 was very interesting as we applied yellow over the prints we printed in red last week.

We took one of our prints and cut masks from it with the idea being that whatever got printed yellow will become green when we put the final color blue on top.  We also experimented with putting newsprint masks over areas we wanted to keep red or make purple.  We made about six prints of each collagraph in red, so we had plenty to work with and try different things.

Some days one has to let go of trying to make a great print and just go with the process and see what you can learn from it.


Some More Circles

GEL121Here I tried out the Ocaldo Ink in purple.  As you can see, there is quite a marked watery effect that I wasn’t expecting to get on the gel plate.  My husband seems to think it is because the gel is oil based and that since the ink is water based it shouldn’t work.  However, that is not the case when using acrylic paints.  I did try using more ink, but that just got too messy.  Regardless, I do like this watery effect.

I also tried out the ink in the viridian and crimson.  Here I used circles and some ribbon that came off of some card stock.

You can see the ribbon grain on the ghost prints.  The more I used the circles, the more color was left behind from previous pulls.  I think that these would make really nice sets.

GEL124I actually remember what I did here!  I put the masks on, then made circles with an empty tape roll which lifted some paint off of the gel plate, pulled the print, and then stamped the print with the paint that was left on the tape roll.  This meant that I didn’t end up with stark white circles.  Also some of the paint was pulled on the outside of the circles from when I stamped on the gel plate.  There are so many ways that you can make a pattern.

GEL120I know that this isn’t a print of circles, but I did find some plant matter on my morning walk with the dogs and I wanted to see if I could pull a nice print of some roots.  Initially, I used a light green with the viridian, but that wasn’t happening for me.  I must have tried a few different ways, but I couldn’t pull a good print.  So, I left a very faint ghost on the gel plate, added some more viridian on top and repositioned the roots to the other side of the plate and pulled an outline print that was not so great.  But then I did a pick up print with some newsprint from a supermarket brochure to get up as much of the paint around the plant as possible before lifting the plant from the plate to take a detailed impression of the roots and this is what I got.  I have a really good print of the plant, but if you look closely, you can see some of what was in the brochure!  This certainly wasn’t intentional, but I really like it.  Think I might keep it for myself.


Some More Birds and New Ink

After spending a week or so researching printing ink, I finally ordered some printing inks from the art supplier that I normally use, Jackson’s Art.

Firstly, there are three types of printing ink.

  1. There is ink that is oil based that requires you to use solvents to thin it out and for clean up.  There is a long open time when working with these types of inks and it can take quite some time to dry before you can add another color – days if not a week or more.  These are considered the best, but due to the toxicity of the solvents, not for me.
  2. There is ink that is vegetable oil based and has similar properties as above, however you are meant to be able to clean them up with soap and water.  My art tutor found that doesn’t always work and uses a household spray cleaner for clean-up.  This is what we use in class.
  3. Then there are the water based inks.  You are able to thin them with water or mediums and they have a longer open time than acrylic paint.  They clean up with soap and water.  As far as quality is concerned, these are meant not to be as good as the two above.  This is what I purchased – partly because I am on a strict budget and for ease of clean-up.

The inks from the USA are quite expensive.  Speedball do all three types of printing ink, but they are pricey.  I ordered ink that Jackson’s put their own name to as it was very inexpensive compared to the others on the market and you get a decent sized bottle.

However, when I peeled off the Jackson’s label, I found that they are selling a brand that I could buy from a number of different suppliers, and for a bit less.  Needless to say, I am not very happy about that.  I do consider that false advertising.  I didn’t know about Ocaldo inks as they did not come up when I was doing research on printing ink, but when I Googled Ocaldo Inks, quite a few suppliers popped up.  So my review will be on Ocaldo Ink and not Jackson’s.


Here I used the 8×10 inch gel plate.  I had some blue left over on the plate that got picked up and I used the new yellow.  The ink has a nice sticky consistency and went onto my roller quite nicely, however, it tended to bead up on the gel plate which doesn’t really happen when I use the acrylic paint.  The yellow is not a bright yellow and I am not really sure how well it would mix to make a secondary color as it is a bit earthy.  The black also reacted quite differently when applied to the contact paper stencil compared to the acrylic paint.  It creates quite a lot of resistance.  So although not a traditional ink print, I ended up with a watery effect that I quite like.

The one good thing I can say about using this ink at this time is that there is a much longer open time than using acrylic paint.  This means that I don’t have to rush when I want to take a ghost print as the ink won’t dry out too quickly.  Clean-up has been fairly easy too.  I have an old micro-fiber cloth that I dampen and it wipes up the paint off of my Perspex pallet quite easily.  The paint washes off my brayers with just a bit of soap and water too.  As the paint takes a bit longer to dry, you need to wait before working with another color unless you are using very thin applications.  The sea birds at the top required a full day to dry as the black paint was quite tacky.

I think I am going to just have to work with this new ink for awhile to get used to it and find the best way forward.  It may be the case that it is not so great for the gel plate, but good for linocuts.  We will see.