A Collagraph Revisited

IMG_3839This is a collagraph that I had made for my printing class.  There were some things I could have done better and which I eventually did when I made another, smaller one.  The prints I made with it at home didn’t turn out very well as I tried to print it by hand.  When I took it to class and ran it through the press, we got these.

Surprisingly, there was still a fair amount of ink left on the plate.  The ink above is water based Ocaldo relief ink.  After playing with the Xcut and my new version of this collagraph, I thought I would have another go with this again.

I used damp paper on a higher setting than I previously used.  You can see the result in the upper left, which is the first print I pulled.  I mainly printed with dry paper and got better results and then as the more I printed, the more the color from the very first print run started to show through.  I used damp paper to pick up the last print on the bottom.  Here is what my plate looks like now.


The string is a little bit more flattened out as it has been through the press a few times.  The first time I used this plate, the ink was rolled out onto the collagraph.  This time I used a bristle stencil brush to push the ink into the spaces.  Since making this, I have learned that when using relief ink on a collagraph, it is better to use dry paper.  I have been doing both and it might be a good idea to start with dry paper so it doesn’t pick up too much ink and then use damp paper towards the end.  For me, it is all about experimenting at the moment until I can work out the best way forward.  The thing about collagraphs like these, you are never going to get a print to work out all the same as the collagraph changes each time it goes through the press, along with how the ink is applied.  Therefore, this will end up being a varied edition.  Once all of the prints have dried, I will have a chance to embellish them if I want to.  I may even print some off in dark colors only.  The possibilities are endless!

Printing on the Xcut Xpress-Part 2

After my first attempt at printing collagraphs on the Xcut Xpress, I decided to change tack.  I cleaned up the oil based ink on my Perspex plate and decided to use the Caligo Safe Wash Relief Ink.  This is the ink we used in our printing class.  Here is my collagraph, all inked up.

IMG_3899I used Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber and Black.  At first I used damp paper.  It pulled off a strong print, but the paper was creased.  It was the same for the second print.  I then decided to use dry paper, which was better.  I initially used the Kent.  After that I used a bright white, acid free, mixed media paper.


The more I printed, the paler the print came out.  I put this through the same setting as I did the pond, but I think I needed to use a higher setting as my collage stuck out in a few places and is probably why the damp paper creased.  I made quite a few more, but they are still drying out on my clothes rack!  This is 6×6 inches and is the second collagraph I made to the larger one I made for my printing class.  This time I just stuck everything down with glue straight onto some thin cardboard before varnishing.  Some came out very well and the ones that are nearly there will be embellished with some media.  I will have to try this again, but on a different setting.

Printing on the Xcut Xpress-Part 1

As I mentioned in my previous post, I purchased the Xcut Xpress die cut machine that many people are using as etching presses.  As I am currently unable to go to printing classes or join the printing group (daytime only), I decided to go for one of these little machines so I can easily print at home.  The upside to this is that I do have some dies that I can cut as well.  Here is my machine:

This little machine is about the size of a handbag and is quite sturdy for something that is mostly made of plastic.  The rollers are metal which gives it some weight.  I initially used it on my dining room table, but it is not convenient to leave it there as it is too heavy to leave it on the end (the leaves of the table pull out on the sides).  I have a little table where I kept my paint tubes in a large tray.  I moved the tray (I have since gotten rid of this tray as it is too big and am now using a smaller one for my paints) underneath and the press sits perfectly on top.  This now gives me more room for working on my dining table.

I made a collagraph on mount card based on a tutorial on the Handprinted website.  This is what I made instead:

IMG_3900 (Edited)Silly me forgot to take a photo of the collagraph before adding ink.  This is what it looks like after clean-up.  The pond and the dark parts in the sky were originally covered with packing tape.  I used Hawthorn Stay Open ink in Charcoal Black which is a yummy, slightly iridescent charcoal color.  I added Hawthorn Linseed Reducing Jelly to the ink to make it easier to wipe off of the plate.  However, my wiping off of the ink didn’t go so well.  Hawthorn inks are completely oil based and quite sticky.  I shall either add more jelly or use the jelly directly on the plate to help wipe the ink off.  In any event, the packing tape started to peel off during the wiping process, so I just peeled it all off with tweezers in the end to keep the white parts.  Here is the first print:

COL164The whites came out very white (that’s good), but the cattails and leaves should be more dark as those areas were incised into the card and should hold more ink.  I also think this has a lot to do with not being able to wipe the ink off the other areas very well.  This was printed on damp paper, Kent, A4 size.   I decided to take a ghost print to see what I could pull as there was still some ink left on the plate and this is what came out.

COL165Before I put everything through the press, I dabbed some more ink in the recessed areas of the collagraph and used damp paper.  The top part of the print is quite faint, but I will be adding some type of pencil to this print to make it more the way I want it.  What you also can’t see in these prints is that there is quite a lot of texture on the paper due to the way the paper went through the press.  My collagraph got a little bit mangled in parts where I had to peel off the packing tape, so after cleaning the plate with vegetable oil first and then wiping the residue off with a natural orange kitchen cleaner, I glued down some parts with varnish and then varnished the whole plate again.  While the varnish was still wet, I added carborundum grit to the tops of the cattails as that should hold more ink.  I will be adding contact paper to the sky and pond to preserve white areas.

So that was my first foray into printing with the Xcut Xpress.  It wasn’t a huge success, but it wasn’t a complete failure either as you can only learn from when things don’t go well.  I am not finished with this collagraph and will show you how it goes once I have done more work on the plate.