Imagine the Printmaking Possibilities of Collagraphy

As someone who grew up thinking I had to color between the lines and follow the rules, when I had children I had to stop myself from making my girls play with their toys "the right way." They always liked to use their imaginations to make up their own rules for a game, use pieces of a toy in unconventional ways, or use a shoe as a telephone (even though they had a "play" telephone).

stitched plate for collagraphy
Stitching for collagraphy, from
Print with Collage & Stitch.

Once I got over my initial resistance and allowed their creativity to flow, it dawned on me this is how original art is invented. It's all about "What if?"

In fact, "What iffing" is how collagraph (also spelled collograph) printmaking got started. According to Val Holmes in her book Print with Collage & Stitch: Techniques for Mixed-Media Printmaking, collagraphy techniques can be seen in prints from the late 19th century, when Pierre Roche, a student of Auguste Rodin, started experimenting with plaster as a medium for relief printing.

But the collagraph print method really took off when innovative artists like Pablo Picasso began using collage as an artistic medium.

"It didn't take long before printmaking artists and painters interested in print started to collage cloth, metal, or sand to texture their plates," writes Val.

collograph by val holmes
Collograph by Val Holmes.

The term "collagraphy" is attributed to printmaker and educator Glen Alps. He liked that the technique allowed an artist to work spontaneously in print and to realize visual ideas rapidly. He coined the term from the Greek "kollo" meaning glue and "graph," meaning the activity of drawing.

The advent of Pop Art and the increasing popularity of the printmaking process fostered the role of collagraphy in art, and it continues to be popular today.

Collagraph printing is typically done with a printing press, but in her book, Val describes many ways you can make prints without a press.

Print with Collage & Stitch gives you many ideas for collagraph printmaking supplies and instructions for how to use them. But Val states up front that the process is a very personal one, and she is showing you her approach. You can take this printmaking method in any direction you wanteven outside the lines. All you have to do is say, "What if?"


P.S. What was your most successful "What if?" Tell me about it in the space below.

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