Hester Cox: Collagraph

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Posted 19th November 2018


Making Dipper

As described by Hester Cox

A collagraph refers to a collage of materials glued on to a 'printing plate', usually a square of cardboard. When the glue is dry, the surface is shellaced or varnished so that it can be painted with linseed oil-based etching inks. Paper is then pressed on to the surface to produce a print.

The variety of materials which can be printed from allows for rich and varied textures in the print. A relative newcomer to the range of print techniques, the term was first used in America in the late 1950s. Prints are often labelled 'V E' (Varied Edition) as each is slightly different.

Below, Hester Cox reveals how she made her piece, Dipper, on show in the exhibition.

Step 1: Drawing and reversing: First the design is drawn onto paper and then transferred to the mountboard using tracing paper to reverse the image.

Step 2

Step 2: Applying texture: Textures are created using gesso & wood glue. Rougher textures print as darker tones and smoother parts as lighter areas.

Step 3: Cutting away: The top paper layer is scored with a surgical scalpel and areas are peeled away to create darker tones.

Step 4: The Plates: Further 'blank' plates are made and these will be rolled with ink to create background colours. All plates are sealed with varnish.

Step 5: Graduated roll for the base plate: A sepia colour is blended with white to create the first layer.

Step 6: The first layer is printed onto damp paper.

Step 7: Blends of ochres and umber are printed onto the grey layer to create the water of the beck and the body colour of the dipper.

Step 8

Step 8: Printed bird and water layers: Once the background colours are printed, the detail from the collagraph layer must be added.

Step 9: Ink is applied to the plate then wiped carefully with newsprint and tissue, leaving ink in the indentations.

Step 10: The plate is placed face down on the print with a blanket beneath, which pushes the paper into the plate's indentations.

Step 11: Printing the final layer: The plate is passed through the press, picking up the ink from the blankets and damp paper.

Step 12

Step 12: The finished print: After taping to a board with gummed tape to keep it flat and dry.

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