4.2 Collatype collage prints

The purpose of this project was to take the learnings from the previous collage test print exercise and use this to explore a representational theme and create three versions of a collatype collage block print using a variety of techniques.

Keywords from the brief:

  • Choose a subject where you deliberately have to reduce the amount of visible detail.
  • Be adventurous and bold.
  • For this project you have several options:
    1. You may decide to print the collatype collage block in one colour
    2. You may choose to print the first impression in a dark colour (as above), then to clean your collatype block and re-ink it in a second, lighter colour
    3. It is possible to mask parts of your collatype collage block and print selected areas in one colour
  • It is worth experimenting with all three methods of printing a collatype collage block to see which suits your ideas the best.

The design

My original idea was to build on some of the imagery in the test collotype print from Exercise 4.1 and create a version of a still life of a vase of lilies; a drawing that I’d originally developed as a backdrawn monoprint.

In the end I decided to continue on my commuter theme because I thought a couple of drawings that I made from reference photographs would transpose nicely into a collatype:

  • The images were fairly bold and should reduce down to a collage block with simplified shapes
  • Different areas of the image suggested different collage textures that I could reuse from the previous test collatype print exercise
  • The image would work in both monotone and colour, so enable me to try out different inking approaches

Sticking to the same subject matter would also allow me to compare the success of using one technique over another across different exercises.

Woman with phone drawing
Woman checking social media – Sharpie ink pen and meths, black Indian ink, liquid watercolour – A2 sized
Woman with phone pen and ink
Pen and ink drawing – A2 sized

Creating the collatype blocks

The image was drawn direct onto the A2 sized mountboard base using a Sharpie marker pen. I hoped this would make the final image more expressive by taking out the step of transferring an image from one medium to another.

I was advised that mounting the mountboard onto MDF board was unnecessary and I decided to try without because the block would go more easily through the press.

The first step was to cut back the black outlines and build up some areas using different weighted mesh.

Collatype block01

I continued cutting back into the mountboard and adding new textures until I was happy that the collage was complete.

A final layer of watered down PVA was applied to seal the whole block prior to printing.

Printing the collatypes

One of the objectives of the brief was to create a number of prints using different inking techniques so I inked up each of the prints in a slightly different way.

The five prints were made in a double print session at Kew Print Studio and each print took an average of around an hour to ink up and print, so it was quite a slow process.

I wanted to try and use alot of colour in the print and applied ink to some sections around the face and hands as if I was making a painting using a large paint brush. I used a toothbrush to apply ink to the darker areas where there tended to be more texture.

Block on press
Collatype block inked up on the press

The prints were made on bread & butter edition paper that was soaked in water and dried in blotting paper before being put through the press. The paper was the largest size that the press could accommodate.

Prints on table
The different prints laid out on a table to dry

The final prints

I created five prints in total, starting with a single colour, and then progressively experimented and fine-tuned my inking and wiping technique across the remaining four prints.

I think the final print is the most successful because it combines good colour combination with texture

Woman and phone collatype05
The final print used a different colour combination to lift the image and make it less dark and oppressive

Reflections

What went well

  • I did feel that each print improved as I learned how to better apply the ink.
  • The textures work well and give an interesting dimension to the prints.
  • I think the colour combinations, particularly in the final print start to work in a good way. Particularly the black, Prussian Blue and Sepia working against the pink and reds.
  • The images do have a style that is starting to work although I didn’t really push this far enough; I ran out of time.

What would I do differently/better

  • Overall I don’t think the final prints are very successful as images.
  • I didn’t really grasp how the collatype would print from the start. For example, I thought that the outlines that I cut into the mountboard would retain ink and print intaglio style, giving me a dark outline. This was true in some areas, but in others it printed relief style with no ink at all.